Workers Uniting Condemns Wrongful Arrest & Detention of Top Union Leader

Workers Uniting, the international trade union bringing together the largest union in Britain and Ireland, Unite the union, and United Steelworkers (USW), the largest private sector union in North America, condemns in the strongest possible terms the recent detention of Colombian trade union leader Huber Ballesteros. Together our unions represent more than two million workers across the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and USA and we are calling for the necessary steps to be taken to ensure that Mr. Ballesteros, who was arrested on August 25, is released without delay.

Workers Uniting has worked very closely with Mr. Ballesteros for many years in his position as the Vice President of the agricultural workers’ union FENSUAGRO, which is a Workers Uniting partner union. Indeed, in 2011, Workers Uniting and FENSUAGRO signed an agreement entitled “The Partnership for Life” which committed our unions to taking all necessary measures to guarantee justice for members of FENSUAGRO -- the most persecuted union in Colombia.

We are alarmed by the fact that a trade union and peasant farmer leader as respected as Huber Ballesteros is arrested in what we understand as a clear effort to disrupt the work of the trade unions currently involved in organizing mass industrial action in different parts of the country since August 19, 2013. We are outraged and disappointed to see the tactic of imprisoning high-profile critics being used to disrupt a form of peaceful and lawful protest which is a fundamental part of any democracy.

Workers Uniting joins other social groups and labor organizations in Colombia, including the CUT, in demanding the immediate release of Mr. Ballesteros, and that full respect is shown to all trade unionists and social activists currently involved in the organization of industrial action. We further reiterate our support for FENSUAGRO and to its human rights work in Colombia.

Click here to read a letter sent to top leaders in the Colombian government urging them to prevent further persecution of trade union leader Huber Ballesteros.

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