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Colombia: Truck Drivers from Magdalena Threaten to Go on a Strike

11.1.2019

On January 8th The Association of Truckers of the Banana Zone, Aczoban, reported in a statement that the banana trading companies in that area would be hiring Urabá transporters, thus leaving 80 affiliates of the association unemployed.

"The association of truckers of the Banana Zone seriously rejects the policies that have been implemented by banana trading companies in the Banana Zone, violating the right to work of small transporters in the area, displacing those who have historically been doing this. I worked for a long time, growing together with the banana industry. Many companies are bringing materials from other areas of the country and are distributing them directly to the plantations, leaving these small transporters, who had been doing this work redundant" said Jacinto Miranda Henríquez, vice president of Aczoban.

Aczoban consists of 80 affiliates including transporters, truck owners and drivers.

Given the problem, the association of transporters suggests a round table dialogue with companies to find a solution otherwise they threaten to go on a protest.

In the communiqué Aczoban listed four actions they will take if they cannot reach an agreement:

1- In the extraordinary assembly of the association it was unanimously decided to prevent vehicles coming from other regions to distribute cargo to the plantations which take away the work of the small transporters of the Magdalena.

2- Achieve the allocation and participation in the transportation of the cargo in the percentages that allow the subsistence of the small transporters of the Magdalena who have been doing this work for years.

3- The creation of a fund for repairs and maintenance of tertiary roads in the Banana Zone of Magdalena.

4 - The association says it is willing to talk in order to reach a consensus on this problem but if there is no solution to their de-mands, they will be forced into a cessation of activities to prevent further violation of the right to work of transportation workers of the Banana Zone of Magdalena. The Association of Bananeros del Madalena and La Guajira - Asbama, rejected these threats and expressed concern about intimidation.

The producers affiliated to Asbama, declared themselves worried about the demands; which requests, according to the association, seriously damage the competitiveness of the banana sector that for decades has been committed to the highest standards of sustainability for the production of fruit, working with communities and being the main engine of development in the region, where 12,778 direct jobs and 38,489 indirect have been generated.

It is important to bear in mind that the banana companies affiliated with Asbama are aligned with the pronouncements and actions of international institutions such as the FAO, which leads a worldwide initiative to enable all players in the banana chain to improve their salary.

In a statement, Asbama points out that "the stability generated by our agroindustry at an economic, environmental and social level would be affected by this type of pressure, which ignores the importance of economic equilibrium and the development of free competition."

Finally, the association of banana workers called on the authorities to intervene and prevent Aczoban members from resorting to vandalism that may put at risk the integrity of the workers of the farms and companies that have a presence in the Banana Zone and the continuity of banana exports affecting the generation of employment and the sustainability of the region.

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