“19 August – National Agricultural Workers’ Strike”
19 August 2013 will see the start of indefinite strikes across Colombia. Most of the country’s agricultural production will be halted as lorry drivers, coffee producers, miners, health workers, and small-scale farmers all join forces in industrial action to demand a response from the government which has so far failed to comply with promises made for increased guarantees and economic support to the different sectors. The negative economic impact of the various free trade agreements signed by Colombia is a principal concern. The three trade union federations in Colombia, including Colombia’s largest, CUT, are all supporting the strike. Government ministers, in what is a common strategy of attempted delegitimisation, have already accused the strikes of being infiltrated by guerrillas.
A peasant farmer strike in Catatumbo was recently lifted after the government agreed to enter into negotiations but this was only after four protesters were killed and several more had been detained and there is concern across the organising unions that the Army and the Police will again use similar tactics. The government has stated publicly that it will not enter into negotiation with any sector whilst there is a strike taking place – previous talks had failed to convince the unions to suspend the strikes.