GM-COLOMBIA 8 RESUME HUNGER STRIKE FEB. 11
The GM-Colombia 8 autoworkers announced on February 1st that they are resuming their water-only hunger strike, with their lips sewn shut, on Tues., Feb. 11th. That’s the date in 1937 when militant UAW workers in Flint ended a historic 44-day sit-down strike, after GM agreed to recognize the UAW as the workers’ exclusive bargaining agent.
Their first fast in August 2012 ended after 22 days when GM agreed to a mediation with the workers’ association, ASOTRECOL – which ended without a settlement. Citing the workers’ rejection of their paltry ‘final offer,’ GM has since refused the workers’ demand to go back to the table.
Out of the 68 members who formed ASOTRECOL in 2011, eight are holding steadfast and remain in the fight today. Employed an average of 8 years, they suffered debilitating injuries working 12-14 hours/day on an antiquated assembly line. 4-6 years ago GM devised illegal ways to get rid of them. With no union to turn to, and stonewalled by the Colombian legal system, the workers in August 2011 set up a tent encampment in front of the US Embassy in Bogota – where they’ve been ever since – (as of Feb. 1st) 914 days.
GM: FLINT 1937 = COLOMBIA TODAY
The working conditions in their factory were eerily similar to those in Flint in the 1930s. These include: hazardous and unhealthy work conditions, job insecurity, extreme speedup, firings, anti-union policies including espionage and intimidation, and displacement of workers at an extremely early age – all with the backdrop of no government oversight and weak or no unions. This is what gave rise to the struggle by the GM workers 80 years ago in Flint – and today in Colombia.
After these conditions were exposed by ASOTRECOL, GM made safety improvements, corrected some management practices and changed management personnel at the Colmotores plant. GM must now end its war of attrition against the GM-Colombia 8, and make them whole!
For more background on the injured GM workers in Colombia, see the ASOTRECOL website.