Historic moment for Carrefour Colombia Workers Union as it signs first collective agreement
Uniglobalunion.org - Apr 30th 2012, 12:04
Nyon, Switzerland, 27 April 2012: UNI Global Union welcomed the signing of an historic first collective agreement at Carrefour Colombia that it says should serve as a new model for labour relations in the country. Along with the gains for Carrefour Colombia the workers, the agreement is notable for the fair and secure organising collective bargaining process that created it.
“We hope this marks the start of a new era for trade union freedom in Colombia, which is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a trade unionist,” said UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings. “We salute the tremendous courage, commitment and solidarity of the Carrefour workers. They have made history in Colombia. We also recognise the work of company management who came to the negotiating table in good faith.”
The Unión de Trabajadores y Trabajadoras de Carrefour Colombia (UTCC) was formed in 2011 on the basis of the Global Agreement signed by UNI Global Union and the French multinational. With the commitment of the company to recognise its Colombian employees’ rights, the workers moved with incredible speed and strength to build the union. Negotiations for the collective agreement started in late March and were concluded on April 23.
“This is a positive and productive agreement that is very close to the union’s expectations before the negotiations started,” said UTCC President and store worker Luz Marina Díaz. “The victory for workers is not just what’s in the agreement but also the respect and better treatment we have won in the workplace.”
She said the biggest win is the clause that says the company cannot fire union members without a union representative present.
UNI Americas is working with its unions to change the face of labour relations in Colombia. In November 2011 a forum of key employers and UNI affiliates was held in Bogota with the aim of beginning a course of change to end the culture of violence and impunity that has threatened Colombian workers and unions for decades. Carrefour has been a constructive partner for UNI in Colombia.
“This agreement and the work and attitude of Carrefour Colombia management and the union are an excellent example of how we can work together to promote the freedom of association and collective bargaining rights that we have laid out in the Global Agreement,” said Jean-Luc Delenne, Director of Global Labour Relations at Carrefour.
The highlights of the two-year collective agreement include:
• A 2 percent wage increase over the rate of inflation
• Permanent contracts for all workers with at least 6 months of seniority
• Vacation and food bonuses as well as an allowance for eyeglasses
• Recognition of the rights of trade union representatives and leaders to carry out their work
• Procedures for grievances and social dialogue
The Escuela Nacional Sindical was a key supporter as well, providing information and expertise to the union leaders and members during the organising and bargaining process.
“With this agreement, Carrefour is saying publicly that it recognises and accepts the union at the national level and the union representatives in each of its 72 stores,” said Luciano Sanín, director general of the Escuela Nacional Sindical. This is the first time that a union has created a workplace-based structure with the union present in every workplace, every community and at the national level.”
The UTCC also said the new collective agreement exceeds the benefits of the company’s “collective pact”, an individual employment contract commonly used in Colombia to keep workers from joining a union. Carrefour Colombia has agreed to phase out collective pacts in the coming months so that it can turn the page on its labour practices and focus on social dialogue to ensure a just and equitable workplace.
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