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Date: Fri, 13 Jun 97 10:52:39 CDT
From: rich%pencil.BITNET@pucc.PRINCETON.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Colombian Health Care Workers STrike

/** 452.0 **/
** Topic: Columbian Health Care Workers STrike **
** Written 9:28 PM Jun 11, 1997 by labornews in **
From: Institute for Global Communications <>
Subject: Columbian Health Care Workers STrike


Health workers on strike in Colombia over government broken promises

ICFTU OnLine, 5 June 1997

Brussels, June 5 1997 (ICFTU OnLine): The 800,000 strong public sector trade union federations in Colombia have threatened to join a strike by health workers on June 11 if workers' demands were not met.

One hundred and twenty thousand doctors, nurses and other health workers began a strike on June 3 in Colombia in protest at government failure to honour a wage deal reached after a nation- wide strike by state workers in February this year.

The strike has affected more than 640 hospitals and 6,500 health centres, and is beginning to spread to many of the 1,800 hospitals and health centres run by the social security system.

In February, workers in the state sector held an 8-day strike, which was the largest for 20 years and paralysed the country, as telecommunications, road freight services, education and most hospitals ground to a halt. Before the strike began, the government indulged in scare tactics calling on workers not to join the "dark forces which aimed to sow chaos and violence".

However, the strike passed off peacefully, and up to 90% of workers in the state sector took part. The government agreed to negotiate with the strikers, after workers from the petrol, and private industrial sectors threatened to join in.

The strikers full demands at that time included halting privatisation, increasing wages in line with inflation, protest at the violent treatment of trade unionists, and allow to trade unions to operate freely.

The strike ended after the government agreed to 20 per cent pay rises for state workers, and the establishment of a joint labour/government commission to analyse the privatisation programme. At the time the unions described the deal as "justice and dignity" for the workers.

Doctors in Colombia's state-run hospital currently earn about US$900 a months and nurses between US$300 and US$550. The agreed deal would have brought their salaries into line with other professions.

For details contact ICFTU Press at ++322 224 02 12 or ORIT, the ICFTU's regional organisation for the Americas at++58 2 574 97 53 (Caracas). Other OnLine news on Poptel Bulletin Board ICFTU-Online for geonet users and on the WWW at: