general strikes in colombia

map of colombia

1997, february 11-18 - week long strike forces government to make major concessions
following the largest strike it has seen in over 20 years, the colombian government has agreed to make major concessions to union demands. over 800,000 public sector workers walked off the job, paralyzing telecommunications, road freight services, schools and hospitals. despite descriptions by government officials of "the dark forces which aimed to sew chaos and violence," the strike occurred peacefully. when it threatened to spread to the industrial sector, including the petrochemical industry, the government agreed to negotiate.

the government agreed to many union demands on salaries, as well as reform of the welfare services, trade union laws and the privatization program. the government has offered public sector workers a 20% increase in salary and is setting up bi-lateral commissions to promote trade union rights and to study the reform of the social security law which deals with unemployment and housing. it has also agreed to the creation of a commission to analyze the consequences of restructuring, to study the privatization of national telephone, gas and electricity companies, and to scrap the current labor law which criminalizes trade union activity.

this is a modification of a news article published by the international confederation of free trade unions. despite the enormous success of this strike, union activism in colombia continues to be very hazardous. dozens of union organizers have been assassinated in recent years, many more face police detentions without charges, accusations of being narco-terrorists, forced exile, jailing and threats.

another article about this strike was printed in the workers world, a publication of the workers world party.

the world : south america : colombia