Colombia: ITUC demands free and fair presidential elections

photo: Juan Barreto AFP

The ITUC has expressed its deep concern over serious allegations of illegal interference in the electoral process by a number of employers in Colombia.

According to several complaints received by the ITUC, workers have been threatened with dismissal if they vote for candidates not endorsed by their bosses. The complaints have been made public by the ITUC affiliates in the country, CUT and CTC, and also by several members of Congress, the media and the Electoral Observation Mission (MOE).

“We categorically reject conduct that violates labour and criminal laws. Companies should always respect the beliefs and political convictions of their workers rather than seeking to impose a particular political option”, said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The law in Colombia sets out clear electoral standards, establishing that employers must provide full guarantees that workers can freely exercise their democratic rights, including by giving time off on election day. The first round of presidential elections will take place on Sunday, 29 May.

“We are concerned that the Colombian Ministry of Labour and the Attorney General’s Office are not investigating these unlawful actions. We also regret that the main Colombian employers’ association has so far failed to condemn this behaviour carried out by its own affiliates”, said Sharan Burrow.

A mission involving members of the ITUC regional organisation, TUCA, and global union federations is set to arrive in Bogota within days to observe the elections. Monitoring missions are also being organised by trade unions from Spain, the United Kingdom and Ireland.