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Brutal attack on trade unionist

ICFTU Online... 084/290499/DD, 29 April 1999

Brussels April 291999 (ICFTU OnLine): The ICFTU has filed a complaint with the International Labour Office (ILO) against Costa Rica over attacks on Adrian Herrera Arias, General Secretary of SITRASUR, a banana workers union, and because of the management refusal to recognise the trade union.

In its first-ever complaint concerning Costa Rica, the ICFTU has written to the ILO because of the government's failure to deal with trade union rights violations committed by the banana exporting company (COBASUR), against the Sindicato de Travajadores del Sur (SITRASUR) and its personnel.

SITRASUR, which is composed of workers from COBADUR, has been denied recognition by the company which then set up its own solidarist association - ie. company-sponsored union - although this is in contravention of the country's employment legislation. The company also sacked Adrian Herrera Arias, SITRASUR's General Secretary, without giving any reason.

Following the union's complaint to the Employment Minister over these matters, Adrian Herrera Arias received death threats in order to force him to cease his union activities. This was followed by an attack on him by a vehicle while he was in the banana plantation; he avoided being hit by throwing himself into the plantation itself.

A second attack occurred on April 13, when he was approached in the street by two hooded armed men who brutally attacked him; badly injuring him on his left side. His attackers repeated the threats, that unless he stopped his union activities, not only his life, but those of his family would be in danger.

The ICFTU is complaining to the ILO that the Costa Rican government is guilty of violations under ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. In his letter to the ILO ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan says that these events are unacceptable in a country which prides itself on its democracy.

The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) has also complained to the ILO over the Costa Rican government's continued failure to enforce the rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining for another banana workers union, COSIBA. COSIBA has reported a backlog of more than 150 judicial cases and 60 administrative cases concerning union rights violations.

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU)
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For more information please contact: Luc Demaret on: 00 322 224 0212 - press@icftu.org