(Translated by David Brown, a CSN volunteer translator)
Here, we attach the press bulletin for the work stoppage of the Sugar Cane Industry Workers Association. You can contact the spokespersons for the Movement at Palmira-Valle phone: 011 57 2-270-1063
Palmira, September 15, 2008
Permanent Assembly for a work stoppage in all sugar companies in the Geographic Valley of the Cauca River
The coordinating committee and, in its name, the Negotiating Commission for the June 14th Sugar Cane Industry Workers Movement, hereby informs the citizenship of the Rio Cauca Valley, Cauca and Risaralda as well as national and international public opinion that beginning today, Monday, September 15th at 3:00 AM, we have decided to form a Permanent Assembly to organize the stoppage of all planting, field work, harvesting, and processing activities in all sugar cane enterprises in the Valley region of the Rio Cauca, due to the refusal of the Sugar Cane farmers association, ASOCAÑA, to negotiate the working conditions proposals presented on July 14, 2008 with the workers. In spite of the many activities that we have carried out searching for a dialogue our requests have all been ignored.
We remind you that we are not responsible for this Permanent Assembly for a work stoppage. It has been ASOCAÑA who, with its aggressive attitude, and the intent to ignore our rights and to intimidate us with the militarization of the sugar mills, along with the continuing threats of suspension and dismissal, has brought us to this decision.
We, the planters, field works, harvesters and processing workers at the service of the sugar industry, demand dignified working conditions because we cannot continue to be enslaved under the system of contractors and cooperatives working more than 14 hours daily, just to receive a miserable salary that does not even amount to 400,000 pesos (around $200 US) per month. Because we cannot continue being the entrepreneurs of hunger, we demand decent salaries, a formal work contract, clear labor and union rights in the sugar industry, a healthy working environment, health, housing and education for our families, rights that are codified in the National Constitution and under Law.
Because of this, we make a call to all workers in the sugar cane industry in the Cauca Valley, Cauca and Risaralda and their families and communities, as well as to all regional, national and international public opinion to accompany and support this Permanent Assembly work stoppage by sugar cane workers that has begun today in all the sugar milling enterprises.
In the same manner, we call out, in particular, to the workers in all of Colombia, to the union organizing centers and to the unions, and mayors and municipal councils of all the municipalities of the departments in the Cauca Valley, Cauca and Risaralda, impacted by this labor and social conflict, that they accompany us in this struggle the vindicate the workers’ rights and the dignity of the people and to mobilize in solidarity with this process
Lastly, we reiterate that this is a peaceful movement, that we do not want to have any type of confrontation with the public forces, and that we will not organize any type of violent action against the infrastructure of the sugar mills. We request that forces outside the workers movement not be contracted to make attacks against the workers as was done in 2005 in order to defame our struggle.
We ask that the National Government and to the Governors of the departments of the Cauca Valley, Cauca and Risaralda and all the authorities comply with their constitutional responsibilities to defend and protect the rights of the Colombian Workers and those of the citizens: (We ask) that the public (armed) forces not beat up nor mistreat the workers in their organizing of this Permanent Assembly. We make a call to the human rights organizations in Colombia and to the local, regional and national communications media that they objectively accompany us and demand respect for the rights and integrity of our movements, our workers and their families. By the same token, we request that they report the events of our struggle objectively.
WE FIGHT FOR OUR FAMILIES
ACCOMPANY US (in our struggle)