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Colombia: Banana Workers Handed Their Petitions to Augura

5.7.2019

Through the National Union of Workers of the Agricultural Industry (Sintrainagro), banana workers presented the Banana Association of Colombia (Augura) the list of petitions addressed to employers in the region of Urabá, for the new Collective Bargaining Convention.

"From Augura we are respectful and guarantee the right of association for banana workers. For more than 30 years we have backed the model of dialogue and agreement as a fundamental tool of labour peace that facilitates the normal development of our agro-industry, "said the President (E) of Augura, Emerson Aguirre Medina.

During the meeting, the president of Augura mentioned that 2019 has not been an easy year for banana production in Colombia, where phenomena such as climate change have affected the productivity of the farms, especially in the Urabá region during the months of April, May and June.

For his part, Sintrainagro President Guillermo Rivera Rivera added: "We must continue to create mechanisms of respect, trust and authority. We are friends who share ideas. This guild has to be united against the various existing and future problems of the industry."

As of July 8th, negotiation will be officially held between Augura and Sintrainagro, the largest union in the agricultural sector in Colombia. For more than 30 years these events have been characterized by developing the framework of consensus, trust and respect between workers and employers.

The president of the union, Guillermo Rivera said that the starting point for the talks will be a 12% salary increase for the first year of the agreement, and 5% for the second.

"These are moderate adjustments, but we have several initiatives in the list to discuss. That 12% is the starting point of the negotiations," said the leader.

The minimum wage in the Colombian banana sector for this year is about 40,000 pesos per day (1.2 million per month), a readjustment of 12% will increase this to 44,800 pesos per day (1.34 million per month).

The aspiration of the banana workers is to transfer these percentage increases to education and housing funds, as well as additional legal benefits. Rivera declared himself in favour of creating mechanisms of respect, trust and authority to reach an agreement.

Businessman Gabriel Harry Hinestroza described the salary claim as exaggerated and proposed a one-year extension of the current convention. For its part, Augura and Sintrainagro agreed that they will continue working to undertake actions that will strengthen the competitiveness of the banana sector and thus protect the 35,000 direct jobs that are generated, as well as the income of almost US$850 million in foreign currency for Colombia.

To conclude, the union informed that the next meeting of the negotiators will take place on July 8th, when the stage of direct settlement in the collective bargaining process will be officially installed.

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