Striking sugar cane cutters from La Cabaña plantation in Cauca valley, North Colombia will this week step up their action by moving their protest to the capital, Bogota. The workers, members of the IUF-affiliated SINTRAINAGRO, called a strike on March 6 after months of fruitless negotiations with their employer. They are protesting about wage levels being below the local rate, lack of overtime and holiday pay and La Cabana’s continued use of labour providers supplying workers on short term contracts.
Following a major strike in 2008 by SINALCORTEROS (now part of SINTRAINAGRO), most sugar mills in the region agreed to hire workers directly but La Cabaña refused.
The company responded by sacking striking workers and using armed guards to force them off the property. The workers formed a civil resistance group and moved their protest one kilometer outside the municipality but continue to be threatened by the company’s armed guards.
The situation in the region was already tense following the assassination on January 28, of SINTRAINAGRO local leader, Juan Carlos Muñoz.
The IUF Latin America Secretariat and the Colombia office are directly supporting La Cabaña workers.