The struggle continues for a just resolution of the ongoing crisis facing a group of General Motors workers in Colombia who were fired after sustaining debilitating workplace injuries. They have been demanding that GM recognize their workplace injuries, pay their health care costs, reintegrate them into the workplace or provide them with regular income, and recognize their organization.
They camped outside the U.S. Embassy for over a year and waged a 22-day “to the death” hunger strike with their lips sewn shut. Plans were announced for worldwide day-of-solidarity demonstrations. Finally, the Association of Injured GM Workers and Ex-workers (Asotrecol) was able to meet with the management of GM’s Colombian subsidiary, Colomotores.
The workers’ hopes were raised a little bit when the U.S. Department of Labor sent mediators from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service to Colombia to try to resolve the situation. Representatives of GM’s corporate office and of the United Auto Workers GM and Health and Safety departments traveled to Colombia to participate in the talks. Supporters then honored GM’s request and canceled planned protests at its facilities and at the home of GM CEO Dan Akerson near Washington, D.C.
In its statement after the mediation was announced, Asotrecol emphasized to international supporters that “this compromise was achieved thanks principally to your collaboration and solidarity with our struggle.”
However, Colomotores would not even come close to offering a solution that workers could accept, and management still refused to accept responsibility for the workers’ injuries.
As of this writing, plans to restart the hunger strike are being discussed. Asotrecol President Jorge Parra encourages solidarity actions “without restrictions.”