The Economic Crisis Has a Negative Impact on Workers

Gustavo Rubén Triana Suárez, Second Vice President CUT, Informativo CUT, Bogotá
July 25, 2009
(Translated by Stacey Schlau, a CSN volunteer translator)

The speculative ventures of international financial capital, taking over of internal markets of dependent nations, sacking of their primary resources, free trade treaties, in sum all the policies utilized by imperialist powers for their enterprise of recolonization, were the causes of the world economic crisis. In Colombia, the effects of that crisis were augmented by the effects of the strict application of neoliberal policies that caused a real instability in our economy: rates of unemployment at 11.7%, informal work at 57%, industrial decline at 8%, decline in exportation, decline in foreign investments, a negative commercial balance, increase in fiscal deficit, loss of food sovereignty, among other disasters.

And at the bottom of such a terrible panorama are the rural and urban workers who lose their jobs, whose rights are taken away, whose unions are destroyed, as a consequence of the owners’ and government’s attitude of allowing workers and the people to shoulder the effects of the world economic crisis. Also harmful are the privatization policies that favor multinational business and monopolizing groups, implemented by Álvaro Uribe in his seven years of governing. The complaints are not heard in their totality, the offensive against the workers’ movement and the damage caused to production have no precedent.

Espinal Textiles, TEXPINAL Inc., laid off 148 cooperative workers and began to liquidate, which implies the laying off of 130 contractual workers. CI FATEXTOL of Ibagué, from the same economic group, began to liquidate and laid off 450 workers. And to close out the dark scenario of the textile industry in Tolima, Fibratolima, of the Fabricato group, announced that production will move to Antioquia and that it will close the factory in Ibagué, firing more than 250 workers, whom they had already forced to reject their contract and the union, in order to move them into cooperatives and freelance work. Siderúrgica del Pacifico, Sidelpa, recently aquired by Gerdau of Brazil and the only producer of special steels in Colombia, has closed and laid off its 300 workers who had rights and a union more than 40 years old. They based the decision for such nonsense on the supposed damage to the environment. The San Carlos de Tulúa sugar mill took advantage of a maintenance break and, undermining the law, forced its 360 workers to reject their rights and any direct contract so as to work by outsourcing. The Superintendent of Public Services and the mayor of Cali privatized Emsirva, ending the contract and the union and putting out on the street 450 compañeros from this cleaning business. Global de Pinturas, previously Pintuco, in Guarne, illegally laid off 80 temporary workers and 50 union members. The La Francia mine in Cesar, owned by the multinational Canadian company Coalcorp, opeated by United Mining Consortium and Coals of the Cesar, laid off 350 miners without permission of the ministry and without any legal procedures at all. The metallurgic companies of Boyacá have laid off more than five hundred workers in Belencito, Tuta and Sogamoso, alleging economic motivation and a decline in orders. The shoe industry in el Valle has closed several factories. And because of implementing the mechanization of cutting sugar cane by sugar mills, 80 cane cutters do not have work in each operation and it is calculated that the companies bought more than 30 of these machines. In the second semester of 2008 the Occidental company laid off more than 500 workers from its projects of expansion in Arauca, on the pretext of a decline in crude oil prices. The major of Barranquilla Alex Char restructured the District and laid off more than 3,000 wokers.

Hundreds of large and medium-size companies have closed because of imports, smuggling, and laundering of dollars. This is about the destruction of the national productive apparatus, as a consequence of official policies that favor multinational companies and financial capital.

In the face of such an offensive, we workers must mobilize in solidarity with the rest of those affected by imperialist policies, in order to effect a change in government that would reestablish national sovereignty, radically change the economic model, and return economic rights and democratic freedoms to the people. The cause of our ills springs from the sacking of our resources and work by multinational companies, the loss and shrinking of the internal market, and the authoritarianism and exclusion with which the flunkey oligarchy governs. For a decent nation, let us unite to achieve real change.

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