archivos de los protestos globales

Urgent Action: University Workers and Employees Trade Union SINTRAUNICOL Cali


Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002


This urgent appeal comes from good friends in Colombia, the university workers union SINTRAUNICOL who are in their fourth week of peaceful occupation and now risking their lives to prevent the collapse of Universidad del Valle [Univalle], Cali's main public university.

Members of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign and UNISON have visited Univalle on three occasions, and SINTRAUNICOL leader Carlos Gonzalez came to the UK this year, speaking at the London May Day rally, as well as the national conferences of the AUT, UNISON HE sector, PCS GA sector and NATFHE.

We urge all who met Carlos and all our readers to respond immediately to this action.

Colombia Solidarity Campaign



We members of SINTRAUNICOL have now completed three weeks of a Permanent Assembly [1] by workers and employees at the Universidad del Valle. The response to this labour conflict has been intimidation, death threats and militaristic repression by the university authorities.

Within a few days of starting the Permanent Assembly the Superior Council of Univalle, headed by Dr. Germán Villegas V. who is the governor of the department of Valle del Cauca, announced that it would resort to the powers granted it by the State of Internal Unrest to stamp out the trade union's action [2]. Besides this the university's rector has made threats and attacks on the right to freedom of association and union rights, such as harassment of those in the Permanent Assembly who are, according to him, liable for strong punishment, or his frequent calls on the Minister of Labour to take action against the workers and the union.

We call attention to the increase in death threat phone calls, trailing and harassment of union leaders and activists, as well as the presence on the university campus of vehicles (4 x 4, dark windows with several men inside) and persons not normally part of university life.

Last Saturday 12th October the union was notified by the University Management that the situation of the workers and employees at Univalle had become a "public order problem" and therefore would receive the corresponding treatment. The next day a union leader received a phone call from the top commander of the Cali Metropolitan Police, Coronel Adolfo Naranjo, who insisted on the need to speak personally in relation to delicate matters.

As a trade union organisation we reject all the above described repression, we demand a university solution to the conflict, we reject the para-state, military and parmilitary and we make absolutely clear:

1. We are in a LABOUR DISPUTE to DEFEND THE PUBLIC UNIVERSITY which at the current time involves the following issues:

  1. Respect for Collective Negotiation
  2. Rejection of budget cuts which would immediately cause Univalle's collapse, and of the banks' voracity will during 2003 absorb the reduced budget constraining even more the University's mission [3]
  3. Renegotiation of the onerous "Payment Schedule" and "Performance Agreement" signed with the finance sector which is the cause of the multiple problems at this university [Alma Mater].

2. As a consequence of the above the only people responsible for whatever undesirable outcome of this dispute are the university authorities themselves.

3. To invoke the State of Internal Unrest and to characterise this dispute as a "public order issue" to militarise, threaten and repress a labour dispute and social protest, is moreover an open rejection of the academic spirit, of seeking a scientific solution and the reason for existence of such a beautiful university as our Universidad del Valle.

Santiago de Cali, 15th October 2002
Colombia Solidarity Campaign Notes:

[1] A Permanent Assembly consists of workers occupying a building or plant in such a way that services can continue. The workers are permanently at their post.

[2] The State of Internal Unrest passed by Uribe Velez on 12th August 2002 provides his government and state authroties with sweeping dceree powers, as augmented by Decree 2002 of 10th September 2002 (see Colombia Solidarity No 8).

[3] Carlos Gonzalez previously warned about the Univalle's immense debt,

"In 1998 a crisis exploded on the University, its debt had passed more than 60 thousand million pesos, some £17 million, a debt which after a long process of negotiations reached more than 73 thousand million pesos (or £22 million - that is nearly £5 million more after three years). It was finally agreed that this debt must be paid back over 12 years, by the end of which the University will have paid more than 230 thousand million pesos (£69 million). These payments are guaranteed in a Performance Agreement, that is the University subject itself to the administrative, academic as well as financial dictates of its creditor banks, reducing university autonomy to a caricature." (Colombia Solidarity No 7)

Recommended Actions:

1) Send a message to the Colombian government urging:

  1. adequate state funding to Valle de Cauca University in Cali to reverse the budget cuts
  2. a renegotiation of the 1998 agreements made with private bankers, specifically the onerous "Payment Schedule" and "Performance Agreement"
  3. and an end to all forms of state and paramilitary repression against members of SINTRAUNICOL involved in the Permanent Assembly at the university.
		Send to:
		Presidente de la  República
		Fax 00571 337 5890,  00571 566 2071
		Try also (00571) 3342921-- 2431023 -  3342841

2) Send message of support to SINTRAUNICOL at Univalle :

E - mail:
		Colombian Embassy (UK):
		Denis MacShane Foreign Office (UK)
		CUT Human Rights Department:
		Colombia Solidarity Campaign (UK)
		Wednesday 30th October 4.00 - 6.00pm
		3 Hans Crescent, London SW1 (back of Harrods, Knightsbridge tube)
		No to Criminalisation and Repression!  End the State of Internal Unrest!
		For the Right of Social Protest!



Al cumplirse la tercera semana de Asamblea Permanente de los trabajadores y empleados de la Universidad del Valle, agrupados en el Sindicato de Trabajadores Universitarios de Colombia - SINTRAUNICOL, las respuestas a los orígenes del conflicto laboral han sido las intimidaciones, las amenazas y el tratamiento militarista represivo por parte de las directivas universitarias.

A pocos días de iniciada la Asamblea Permanente el Consejo Superior de Univalle encabezado por el gobernador del Valle del Cauca Dr. Germán Villegas V., anunció que recurriría a las facultades que le otorga el Estado de Conmoción Interior para sofocar la acción del sindicato, además de las amenazas y atentados que el rector ha hecho contra la libertad de asociación y las libertades sindicales, como los hostigamientos hacia quienes están en la Asamblea, los que, según él , serán objeto de fuertes sanciones, o como la frecuente convocatoria y presiones del rector para que el Ministerio del Trabajo accione contra los trabajadores y el sindicato.

De otro lado denunciamos que se han incrementado las llamadas amenazantes, los seguimientos y hostigamientos contra directivos sindicales, y activistas, al igual que la presencia en el campus universitario de vehículos (4 x 4, vidrios polarizados con varios hombres en su interior) y de personas extrañas a la vida universitaria.

El pasado Sábado 12 de Octubre el sindicato fue notificado por la Dirección Universitaria de que la situación de los trabajadores y empleados de Univalle pasa a ser un "problema de orden público" y que por lo tanto se le dará el respectivo tratamiento. Al día siguiente un dirigente del sindicato recibe llamada del máximo comandante de la policía Metropolitana de Cali, Coronel Adolfo Naranjo, quien le manifiesta su necesidad de hablar personalmente en relación a asuntos delicados.

Como organización sindical rechazamos todo lo anteriormente reseñado, reclamamos solución universitaria al conflicto, rechazamos las intimidaciones para estatales, militares y paramilitares y dejamos absolutamente claro:

1.. Estamos en un CONFLICTO LABORAL y de DEFENSA DE LA UNIVERSIDAD PUBLICA que tiene, de momento los siguientes ejes:

  1. Respeto a la Negociación Colectiva
  2. Rechazo a los recortes presupuestales, que en lo inmediato colapsarán a Univalle y para el 2003, la voracidad de los Bancos absorberá el disminuido presupuesto constriñendo más la misión de la Universidad.
  3. Renegociación del oneroso "Acuerdo de Pagos" y "Convenio de Desempeño" suscritos con el sector financiero, el cual, hoy se constituye en la madre de múltiples problemas del Alma Mater.

2.. Consecuentemente con lo anterior los únicos responsables de cualquier desenlace indeseable del conflicto son las propias directivas universitarias.

3.. Invocar el Estado de Conmoción Interior y caracterizar este conflicto como "asunto de orden público" más que militarizar, amenazar y reprimir un conflicto laboral, la protesta social es la "ingenua" renuncia a la imaginación académica, a la solución científica y a la razón de ser una Universidad tan linda como es nuestra Universidad del Valle.


Santiago de Cali, Octubre 15 de 2002

Noticias sobre Colombia | Plan Colombia |