ITUC OnLine – August 17, 2011


YEMEN:  ITUC CALLS FOR URGENT HUMANITARIAN AID

Brussels, 17 August 2011 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC is calling on the international community to respond to the humanitarian emergency in Yemen, where shortages of food, water, electricity, fuel and other essential goods are worsening by the day. Many companies and factories have closed down, leaving tens of thousands of workers on the street. “The people in this the poorest country in the Arab world are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their most basic needs. Urgent action must be taken to bring them the aid they need,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

Over the five months since the start of the protest movement against President Saleh, who has been in power for 33 years, the humanitarian situation has seriously deteriorated. Prior to the start of the protests in January 2011, Yemen was already suffering from endemic poverty, with 40% of the population living on less than two dollars a day. The alarming lack of jobs, poverty and corruption were, moreover, key factors driving many Yemenis to manifest their discontent and their desire for change when the wave of protests sweeping the Arab world first began.

The United Nations Security Council has recently expressed serious concern over the deteriorating economic, humanitarian and security situation in the country. It has also urged the parties to the conflict to stop targeting vital infrastructures. The IMF, meanwhile, has forecast that the rate of inflation could reach 30% this year.

Echoing the serious concerns expressed by the ITUC affiliated organisation in Yemen, the GFYWTU, the international trade union movement has insisted on the “urgent need for a peaceful and democratic transition to bring a long-awaited response to the demands expressed by the population”. “Alongside the efforts to bring an end to the political deadlock that has already caused too much suffering and loss of life, the relevant international institutions must take urgent measures to come to the people’s aid,” added Sharan Burrow.


COLOMBIA: MINEWORKERS’ LEADER MURDERED

Brussels, 17 August 2011 (ITUC OnLine): The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has joined with its Colombian affiliates, CUT, CGT and CTC, in firmly condemning the killing, on Tuesday 26 July in El Campo district, of Rafael Tobón Zea, a founding member of the Segovia branch of the mine and fuel workers’ union SINTRAMIENERGETICA.

Rafael Tobón Zea was fired during the takeover process after working for 15 years at the Frontino Gold Mines, owned by workers and pensioners. The mining company had been forced into liquidation and then illicitly handed over to transnational capital. At the time of his murder the union leader was working at a small mine where he was defending small and medium sized mining operations, backed by SINTRAMIENERGÉTICA, as well as supporting the workers and the local community at the Frontino mine in their fight to save the company from the clutches of transnational capital.

In a letter to the Colombian authorities, the ITUC urged President Santos and his government to take every step necessary to clear up the facts without delay surrounding the constant crimes against the trade union movement in Colombia.

“Those responsible must be arrested and face the full force of the law, to bring an end to the impunity in Colombia,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. “As many as 19 trade unionists have already been murdered during 2011. Trade unionists have a right to exercise their legitimate trade union activities without putting their lives at risk.”

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