Imminent threats require dialogue tables with all parties involved
Faced with profound negative effects related to the energy transition process in Colombia, including mine closures and other paralysing activities, major mining unions in the coal sector have decided to unite to ensure that labour rights and a socially just transition are guaranteed.
Several months ago, the Prodeco Group, a subsidiary of Glencore, announced the closure of all their mining operations in northern Colombia. Then, a few weeks later, Carbones del Cerrejón began a process to eliminate 450 jobs through what the company is calling "voluntary withdrawal".
The multinationals claim this is due to low prices and a decrease in business. According to them, these problems have only increased with the worldwide crisis caused by the pandemic.
Multinaltionals closing coal mines
The Colombian trade unions in Guajira and Cesar have been issuing warnings for several years about the imminent threat of the closure of coal mines by the multinationals present in the region. Now it is becoming a reality.
The workers have repeatedly asked for dialogue tables to be established where all the parties involved, the government, the companies, and the workers could generate strategies and agreements.
Existing collective bargaining agreements have to be respected, and commitments fullfilled that derive from the framework of international agreements.
Thousands of families depend on the mines for their livelihood
There are numerous alarming signs indicating that these large companies will simply withdraw from Colombia without establishing any agreements with their workers or the communities.
Such action will leave behind thousands of families who depend on the mines for their livelihood. It will abandon hundreds of workers whose health has been negatively affected by the extractive work of coal mining.
It is estimated that Prodeco, for example, is responsible for approximately 40% of the GDP of the Cesar region and the multinational Carbones del Cerrejón, for 43% of the economy of the department of La Guajira.
The entire economic structure of this region relies almost solely on mining. It is estimated that Prodeco, for example, is responsible for approximately 40% of the GDP of the Cesar region and the multinational Carbones del Cerrejón, for 43% of the economy of the department of La Guajira.
The regions are already experiencing serious labour and economic impacts, therefore, labour organisations Sintracerrejon, Sintracarbón, Sintraminergetica, Sintradrummond, and Sintradem, with the support of CNV International, have decided to jointly and autonomously form the COLECTIVO DE TRABAJADORES POR LA TRANSICION JUSTA (Workers' Collective for a Just Transition).
The collective seeks to work together to minimise the negative impacts on workers and their families and to ensure that fundamental rights are respected. In addition, they will serve as an essential interlocutor that contributes to a transition which will guarantee the best possible present and future for the communities of these regions.
Publication date 02 10 2021