Petition for the respect of labor laws in the flower industry in Colombia
February 14 is the INTERNATIONA DAY OF FLOWER WORKERS
50% of the flowers imported in Canada come from Colombia
Here is the traduction of the letter that we would like you to sign
For the attention of:
DIEGO PALACIO BETANCOURT, Minister for Social protection in Colombia.
AUGUSTO SOLANO, President of the Colombian Association of flower exporters.
- Whereas the exporters of flowers in Colombia exported more than one billion dollar US of flowers in 2009, work conditions of the employees hardly improved, the abuses on the level of overtime, among others, continue and the flower producers as well as the Colombian government have put no concrete measure in place that will ensure the right to free association of the workers. Recently, the Benilda greenhouse closed its doors, leading to many hundreds of men and women workers becoming unemployed and especially the majority of the leading heads of the only independent national union, Untraflores.
- The anti-trade-union practices that are in place, in particular the promotion of employers federations, and discriminatory or defamatory measures against the employees trying to organize, make it very difficult for the employees to exercise the right of association in order to promote labor regulations and necessary ecological and social health standards when pesticides are used for fumigation in the greenhouses
- According to a study by Oxfam International, 88% of the workers in the industry believe that they will lose their employment if they form and join an independent trade union and they receive threats that if they go ahead and do this then the flower greenhouses will be closed.
- 50 to 60% of the workers suffer from health issues (cancer of the skin and the lungs, respiratory disorders, asthma, infertility, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and bad back conditions) due to the pesticides that are used on the assembly line where the work is very rapidly paced and the workers are under great pressure.
- The minimum wage (already extremely low) and the welfare benefits are often not paid in due form since this industry too often supports subcontracting through investment trusts (Co-operative of Associated Work or CTA) and other intermediaries and takes no responsibility to ensure that the employees receive fair and just compensation and wages.
Today we are exhorting that the Ministry for the Social protection of Colombia and the owners of greenhouses of flowers to ensure:
Respect of the right to free association of the employees by ceasing all pressure tactics and threats against the autonomous and independent trade-union organizations in Colombia.
We also request that you establish an honest system of contracts for the workers in this industry and that you greatly reduce the practice of using placement cooperatives (Cooperativas de Trabajo Asociado, CTA) and also by greatly reducing the use of investment trusts (Cooperativas de Trabajo Asociado, CTA)
- The employees should always receive in a timely manner, the wages and compensations that they have earned and are owed and this includes situations when the workers are made redundant.
We thus wish to see concrete measures put in place in the years to come that will guarantee the free exercise of the right to free association in Colombia. All of the ecological or social certifications cannot be considered seriously as long as these three requests will not be guaranteed by the Colombian state and the flower exporters.
By signing this letter, we engage, moreover, to address our concerns to the attention of florists and flower sellers in our country each time we buy flowers from Colombia in the future.
Yes I support this letter!
Thank you for signing this letter and for distributing it along your networks.
For more information about this campaign that began on the International Day for workers in the flower industry please contact
Committee for the human rights in Latin America 211, rue Jarry Est Montreal (Quebec) H2P 1T6