OTTAWA, May 22 /CNW/ - United Steelworkers' (USW) National Director Ken
Neumann announced today that union rank-and-file members will come to Ottawa
May 25-29 to directly urge opposition MPs to vote against Bill C-23, which
would implement the Colombia trade agreement signed by the Harper government.
"We are asking all opposition MPs to renew their commitment to the 2008
all-party Standing Committee on International Trade," said Neumann. "That
recommendation calls for an independent, impartial and comprehensive human
rights impact assessment before Canada considers free trade with Colombia.
"Nothing has changed since the Committee made its report. Human rights
continue to be violated and trade unionists continue to be murdered."
Neumann added that a young Colombian lawyer, Yessika Hoyos Morales, will
join the Steelworker lobby. Hoyos Morales is the daughter of a murdered trade
unionist. Her father, Jorge Dario Hoyos Franco, was shot repeatedly in the
face eight years ago by two hired gunmen.
Hoyos Morales' father is just one of 2,694 unionists and union leaders
who have been assassinated at the hands of paramilitaries over the last 20
years in Colombia.
"My father worked broadly with unions, student organizations, women's
organizations," said Hoyos Morales in a statement. "He worked to defend the
rights of communities. He was recognized and loved by the people for his work.
The murderers made good on their threats against my father. But my father made
good on his word - he never gave in to the demand that he stop fighting for
"Canada should not be legitimizing a regime with such a brutal record
through this international agreement. We should not proceed until Canadians
can be assured that they are not making a deal with the devil," said Neumann.
Neumann added that trade agreements, once implemented, are no longer an
effective vehicle for pursuing human rights.
"Once the deal is made, there is no more incentive to make real and
lasting change," he said. "Rewarding the Uribe government's bloody record is
USW Legal Counsel Mark Rowlinson will testify at the Trade Committee on
Tuesday, May 26, on the other prominent Latin American trade agreement
legislation - C24, Free Trade with Peru.
The USW represents 250,000 men and women working in every sector of
Canada's economy. The union has links with struggling and surviving unions in
Colombia and has conducted its own fact-finding missions.
For further information:
For further information: Pat Van Horne, USW, (613) 731-6315, (613)