Bogotá – 23, 24 septiembre 2021
The Workers' Collective for a Just Transition , made up of Sintracarbón, Sintracerrejon, Sintraminergetica, Sintradrummond, and Sintradem, and with the participation of Sintraindumes, starts from the premise that an energy transition process takes time. For this transition to be fair and inclusive, it must be a participatory process that includes the voices of the workers and communities in the affected territories.
The workers are deeply concerned about the decisions that multinational coal extractive companies have begun to take. Their approach to reducing the workforce is causing severe labour rights violations and serious risks which deteriorate the quality of life for workers. This happens through outsourcing, changing of work shifts, the rise of occupational health and safety risks, as well as union busting.
With CNV Internationaal’s support, approximately 20 leaders from the main Colombian unions in the mining corridor, met in Bogotá on the 23rd and 24th of September, 2021. There they defined an action plan that will allow them to jointly deal with the current difficult situation facing thousands of workers. The Collective has defined four categories of work and made specific proposals for each of them. These categories are: 1) Social dialogue and the strengthening of trade unions 2) Social protection 3)Economic diversification and 4) The retraining of workers.
International Labour Organization
The union leaders held meetings in Bogotá with the International Labour Organization (ILO). Meetings with representatives of the Ministry of Labour and the Netherlands Embassy in Colombia also took place.
The organizations which attended the meeting have expressed concerns about how multinational Glencore’s management is handling the mine closure in Cesar and how this is affecting the workers, their families, and the communities. There is no sign of a just transition plan and the process has been inconsistent. Fundamental rights are being violated, as are union rights. In addition, thousands of workers suffering from illnesses caused by their activities in the mines, are being denied their rights for compensation.
Glencore has ignored the fact that its mining extraction has generated a total and absolute dependence on them in municipalities such as La Jagua. They are also ignoring the dispossession of communities such as Tabaco, Roche, Chancleta, Patilla, Oreganal.
Likewise, the Collective has expressed their concern regarding the processes that violate the right to prior consultation (FPIC) with indigenous communities regarding the construction of wind farms in La Guajira.
National and international responsibility
The Collective questioned the passive role of the Government amidst the current crisis in the territories and the absence of a vision regarding the future of these regions. The Collective concludes that a national horizontal dialogue is urgently needed, with the multinationals at the table.
The Collective and CNV Internationaal strongly urge the European Union and its “Green Deal” to include support for a just transition in Colombia’s coal mining sector. This seems only fair after decades of usufruct of the mineral from the country. In addition, the Collective and CNV Internationaal call for all the stakeholders in the supply chain, including European energy companies that purchase coal from Colombia, to be expected to assume their responsibilities and do everything possible to ensure a just transition in Northern Colombia.