400 Cut-Flower Workers Strike and Take Plantation Over Mistreatment

On Monday
September 7, the owners of Benilda defiantly refused to set a date for a settlement on the dispute regarding back compensation. Workers were fed up and finally went on strike on the 10th, taking control of the company's facilities. Since then, workers have been taking turns monitoring over 40 hectares of farms. For more than 15 days, groups of workers have spent cold
nights in the open savanna, while also going to neighboring
municipalities to receive support. They have dealt with aggressive attitudes from various police commanders.

The owners of Benilda, the Mejia brothers have taken up the common strategy of dispersing the company  and reorganizing by financing satellite companies that only use workers from labor cooperatives to avoid
paying social security. Cooperative "associates," who are really just subcontracted workers, are denied most of the regular rights entitled to regular workers (including pay, benefits, right to unionize, etc.) and though a law was passed recently to regulate these cooperatives, there is little hope that it will be adequately enforced.The Colombian Government, through the Ministry of Social Protection, continually fails to enforce and implement labor laws to meet workers' demands as it favors employers in most labor disputes. Read ILRF's recent comments just submitted to the USTR regarding Colombian labor rights violations and the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

This article used substantial information from an article in Spanish from Notas Obreras, by Alfonso Hernandez.