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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 01:48 GMT 02:48 UK
Trade unionists condemn Colombia
The BBC's Emma Jane Kirby
By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC correspondent in Geneva

Colombia has once again been named the most dangerous nation for labour unions in a survey released by an international watchdog body.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), which represents 158 million workers across the globe, said that nearly 200 Colombians had been killed because of their trade union activities.

Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) watch a road block they set up, from a hill in El Berlin
Trade unionists "attacked by both right-wing and left-wing militants"
It also warned that across Latin America, union rights were being violated on a massive scale.

The ICFTU denounced an "appalling toll of murder, beatings, disappearances and intimidation" in Colombia, warning that such violations of rights were carried out with "virtually total impunity".

Members of public sector unions such as teachers and health workers were the most common victims, targeted, according to the report, both by right-wing paramilitaries and leftist rebels in Colombia's civil war.

There were 206 union-related killings last year across Latin America, with 184 of those murders committed in Colombia.

The report said that at least 10,000 workers were also fired during workplace disputes in the region.

The Confederation also hit out at Cuba, Belarus, Zimbabwe and China for stifling trade union activity as a way of exercising power.

The watchdog body concluded that globalisation - the greater movement of trade, capital and competition throughout the world - was leading to a major loss and repression of labour rights.

Colombian unions demand change
24 May 02  |  Business
Country profile: Colombia
23 May 03  |  Country profiles

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