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Cablegate: Ilo Commission Gains Tripartite Perspectives In

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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBO #8508/01 3472037
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 132037Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0490
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 7936
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY 9660
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ DEC 9119
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA PRIORITY 5708
RUEHZP/AMEMBASSY PANAMA PRIORITY 0976
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO PRIORITY 6406
RUEHGL/AMCONSUL GUAYAQUIL PRIORITY 4213
RUEAWJC/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS BOGOTA 008508

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB KJUS PGOV PHUM PTER CO
SUBJECT: ILO COMMISSION GAINS TRIPARTITE PERSPECTIVES IN
COLOMBIA

REF: A. GENEVA 1578
B. BOGOTA 6746

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. A high-level International Labor Organization (ILO)
commission visited Colombia November 25-28 to encourage
progress on implementation on the June 2006 Tripartite
Agreement (ref A). The commission released its report--which
the local ILO report called positive--to the GOC, unions, and
employers on December 13, but will not make it public.
Colombia's main labor groups told the commission the GOC has
made progress in protecting labor leaders and prosecuting
cases of violence against unionists--the first time the
confederations have acknowledged such progress--but said more
should be done to ensure workers' rights. The unions
proposed an eleven point agenda--which was accepted by the
GOC and business community--that will provide the basis for
discussions on a roadmap for progress on labor issues. END
SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
COMMISSION PROMOTES DIALOGUE AMONGST TRIPARTITE GROUPS
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. At the GOC's invitation, a high-level ILO commission
visited Colombia November 25-28 to meet with GOC officials,
labor leaders, and industry representatives to encourage
progress in implementing the June 2006 Tripartite Agreement
on labor issues. The GOC invited the commission to visit
during the annual ILO meetings in Geneva last June. The
commission underscored the importance of dialogue among
workers, employers and the GOC. It did not try to determine
whether the parties were complying with their commitments
under the agreement.

--------------------------------------------- -------
HIGH-LEVEL REPS ELEVATE PROFILE OF LABOR DISCUSSIONS
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. The ILO's resident representative in Colombia, Marcelo
Castro Fox, said the visit was intended to raise the profile
of discussion of labor issues. The commission provided its
trip report to the GOC, unions, and employers on December 13,
but will not make it public. Local ILO representative
Marcelo Castro Fox said he would provide Post with a copy
which we will forward to WHA/AND, and noted that the
Colombians were free to release the report to the public.
Commission members included Jean Maninat, Director of the
ILO's regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean;
Jose Luis Dasa, Director of the Sub-regional office for
Andean Countries; Ricardo Hernandez Pulido, Director of the
ILO's Department of Services, Relations, Meetings, and
Documents; Karen Curtis, Deputy Director of the Department of
International Workplace Norms; and Martha Travieso, officer
in the Norms Department

------------------------------
GOC OUTLINES PROGRESS ON LABOR
------------------------------

4. Vice Minister of Labor Andres Palacios said the GOC
appreciated the commission's visit as an opportunity to show
GOC progress in implementing the agreement. He cited the
increase in prosecution of violence against labor unionists
and said the Ministry of Interior and Justice's protection
program had protected over 1,720 unionists in 2007. Palacio
said the GOC provided $2.2 million to the ILO in October for
the four projects agreed to in the tripartite agreement,
enabling work to begin on employment generation for women,
youth, and the displaced, as well as promoting social
dialogue among the tripartite groups. The commission also met
with the Inspector General, Supreme and Constitutional
Courts, Human Rights Ombudsman, Prosecutor General, Vice
Minister of Justice, National Police, Department of
Administrative Security (DAS), and the Vice President.

-------------------------
UNIONS RECOGNIZE PROGRESS
-------------------------

5. Colombia's three major labor confederations, the United

Confederation of Workers (CUT), the Confederation of
Colombian Workers (CTC) , and the General Confederation of
Workers (CGT), along with the confederation of retired
citizens (CPC), welcomed the commission's visit and used it
as a vehicle to present their proposals for implementing the
tripartite agreement to the GOC. The unions proposed eleven
themes to include in a "road-map" for implementation of the
tripartite agreement. Castro Fox said all three parties were
amenable to using these points as the basis for starting
discussion. The tripartite group committed to meeting
monthly to discuss next steps.

6. Castro Fox told us that in their meeting with the
commission, Colombia's labor confederations recognized GOC
progress in protecting labor leaders and in prosecuting cases
of violence against unionists. The ILO and GOC considered
this an important step in improving relations with the
unions, noting that this was the first time the
confederations had acknowledged such progress. Castro Fox
told us that, with the exception of the violence issues, the
workplace issues in Colombia--collective bargaining, workers'
cooperatives, and promoting the right to organize--are the
same as in other countries in the region. As the GOC makes
progress on protection and prosecution, Castro said
Colombia's labor regime should be judged in the same terms as
those of other Latin countries.

--------------------------------------
EMPLOYERS WILLING TO CONTINUE DIALOGUE
--------------------------------------

7. Alberto Echavarria, Vice President of the National
Association of Industries (ANDI), characterized the
commission's visit as positive. He reviewed progress made by
employers in promoting the right to organize and in complying
with legal obligations on salaries, benefits, and contracts.
ANDI's proposals include supporting prosecutions and
protection, as well as involving the ILO's representative in
Colombia in informal efforts to resolve labor disputes.

Brownfield

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