TAKE ACTION TO SUPPORT the injured Colombian General Motors workers!
Officials from the Embassy responded violently, kicking Manuel, who was not chained, in the face, breaking his cane, delivering hard blows to Carlos’ back and leaving Jorge unable to move the fingers of his left hand.
The action and the attack happened just hours after solidarity activists filed a complaint with the Dept. of Justice asking for an investigation into whether GM is bribing Colombian government officials. The complaint charges that the company deliberately delayed handling workers’ complaints and falsified paperwork, among other illegal activities. Find a press release about the complaint below.
HOW TO MAKE THE CALL:
Enter pin: 5356 928 681
(If the balance is too low on that pin # to make the call, use pin: 3078 737 593)
Dial the Embassy phone number: 011-57-1-275-2000 (M-F 9-4 EST)
(Ask for the Ambassador’s office)
I would like to leave a message for Ambassador Whitaker. My name is _____________________ and I am a member of _________________________(UNION LOCAL, ORGANIZATION, or CHURCH). I am upset about the Embassy’s violent attack on the non-violent protest of the injured Colombian GM workers. I am also upset that the Ambassador has refused to meet with these workers even once since he arrived in Colombia.
The Ambassador needs to pressure General Motors to come into compliance with Colombian law which prohibits the dismissal of workers injured on the job. GM has acknowledged the legitimacy of the workers grievances, it is time for them to settle with the workers.
PRESS RELEASE: DOJ/SEC Filing Charges General Motors with bribing Colombian Government officials in injured worker scandal
DETROIT, MI – US solidarity activists filed a complaint today with the Dept. of Justice and the SEC, charging the General Motors Company with a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act at its Chevrolet assembly facility in Bogota, Colombia. The bribery and corruption charges levied in the 16-page filing originated with members of the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of GM Colmotores (ASOTRECOL) who charge they lost their jobs unlawfully after sustaining disabling injuries at the assembly plant. Some of them continue a prolonged tent-encampment protest now in its 1,205th day at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, demanding from GM a lawful and fair settlement of their grievances.
Based on a long trail of documents amassed by ASOTRECOL leader, Jorge Parra, the letter sent to the DOJ and SEC charges that GM violated Colombian laws with impunity, with the active and unlawful assistance of Colombian government officials.
In particular, the letter describes the extent to which a Labor Ministry official, Pablo Edgar Pinto Pinto and subordinates, made sure that GM was able to dismiss workers injured on the job and deny them workers’ compensation. The beneficiary of the corrupt practices was GM, which bragged that its Colombian factory was the most profitable in all of Latin America. The victims were the workers and their families, with the breadwinners disabled, unable to pay for expensive surgeries, and their families having limited means to survive. While publicly refusing any responsibility for what happened to the workers, GM nevertheless offered “hush money” in August, 2012 which the workers declined.
ASOTRECOL’s President Jorge Parra, with the assistance of U.S. supporters, exposes a complex “system” made up of numerous Colombian governmental departments and agencies, along with GM representatives, which made the unlawful dismissals possible. The highlights of the filing – to which (33) documents are attached – include:
- A botched investigation of illegal practices involving the GM plant’s Medical Center which gave GM Labor Relations staff access to workers’ private medical records;
- Deliberate delays in the handling of workers’ complaints so that they would expire, and could then be “archived” and dismissed;
- Documents falsified by a Labor Ministry official covering up GM’s illegal “voluntary termination agreements” targeted at injured workers;
- A shared office between a labor ministry official failing his responsibility to regulate and sanction GM, and a high ranking former GM Colmotores executive; and much more.
The letter requests an investigation and prosecution of GM under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Approximately two months ago, Michigan Radio reporter Steve Carmody asked GM CEO Mary Barra about workers’ allegations of safety problems in the company’s overseas factories, including Colombia. According to Carmody, Barra “declined to comment on the foreign auto workers complaints, except to say their complaints have been reviewed by local authorities in Colombia…and had been ‘well-vetted.’”
The filing with the SEC/DOJ (which are jointly tasked with enforcing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) seeks to have those very “authorities” cited by Barra investigated for taking bribes from GM, and prosecuted as necessary.
This is part of a larger battle to win fairness and justice for GM’s injured Colombian workers, which must include final settlement with the members of ASOTECOL.
For more information, please visit: www.asotrecol.org