JAISAL NOOR: GENERAL MOTORS CONTINUES TO REJECT DEMANDS OF A FORMER EMPLOYEES-- INCLUDING ONE IN THE THIRD MONTH OF HIS THIRD HUNGER STRIKE -- TO NEGOTIATE THE DEMANDS OF WORKERS FIRED AFTER BEING INJURED AT A GM-OWNED PLANT IN COLOMBIA. AMBIENT CHANTING âWE ARE ASOTRECOLâ LAST WEEK IN DETROIT, SUPPORTERS DELIVERED A PETITION WITH 76,000 SIGNATURES TO GENERAL MOTORS HEADQUARTERS AND PROTESTED AT AN AUTO SHOW, ALL TO HELP RAISE AWARENESS OF THE PLIGHT OF ASOTRECOL, THE GROUP REPRESENTING INJURED WORKERS, WHO WERE FIRED FROM GM'S COLMOTORES PLANT IN COLOMBIA. MELVIN THOMPSON, AN ACTIVE DETROIT AUTOWORKER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF UAW LOCAL 140 LEAD THE ACTION. (CLIP OF MIC CHECK) THOMPSON, WHO HAS LAUNCHED HIS SECOND FAST IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE HUNGER-STRIKING COLOMBIAN AUTO-WORKERS WAS AMONG SEVERAL ACTIVISTS BRIEFLY DETAINED BY AUTHORITIES. (CLIP OF MELVIN, OTHERS BEING DETAINED) IN MAY 2011, 68 WORKERS WHO SAID THEY WERE FIRED AFTER BEING INJURED ON THE JOB FORMED ASOTRECOL AND LAID OUT THEIR DEMANDS OF GM, WHICH INCLUDE RE-TRAINING AND NEW JOBS IN THE PLANT, DISABILITY BENEFITS FOR THOSE UNABLE TO WORK AND COMPENSATION FOR LOST WAGES FOLLOWING THEIR WRONGFUL DISMISSAL. ON AUGUST 1ST OF THAT YEAR, THEY BEGAN OCCUPYING THE SIDEWALK ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE U.S. EMBASSY IN BOGOTA TO DIRECT THE US, WHICH HOLDS 26% OF GM SHARES TO DELIVER JUSTICE. A YEAR LATER AFTER A LACK OF RESPONSE FROM GM, ASOTRECOL ESCALATED THEIR PROTESTS AND LAUNCHED A HUNGER-STRIKE BY SEWING THEIR LIPS SHUT GM AGREED TO MEDIATION FOR 11 OF THE ORIGINAL 68 WORKERS, BUT TALKS ENDED INCONCLUSIVLY AUGUST 31ST, THATâS WHY JORGE PARRA, THE PRESIDENT OF ASOTRECOL, TRAVELED TO DETROIT, AND DECIDED TO LAUNCH HIS SECOND HUNGER-STRIKE ON SEPTEMBER 3. DESPITE THE NOW HIS 3RD 70 DAY HUNGER-STRIKE, GM SPOKESPERSON KATIE MCBRIDE SAYS THE COMPANY WONâT NEGOTIATE FURTHER BECAUSE THE WORKERS REJECTED THEIR FINAL OFFER AT THE TIME OF MEDIATION. CLIP: ââWeâve offered $150,000 in programs for the workers, and their families and about 15 months of their average monthly salaries, about 15 months of healthcare and pension benefits and two years of higher education. Our offers were very generous, so Iâm not sure where heâs coming from. From our perspective it was a very generous series of offers. â BUT JORGE PARRA SAYS THEY REJECTED THE OFFER BECAUSE ITS INSUFFICIENT TO COVER THEIR MEDICAL EXPENSES, INCLUDING HIS OWN. CLIP "With that amount of money I won't be able to have my surgery, its not enough. Its not only the surgery its therapy.And supporting my family. Also whatâs most critical is that my surgeon told me I could end up in a wheel-chair. MCBRIDE STRONGLY DEFENDED THE COMPANYâS HANDLING OF THE NEGOTIATIONS. CLIP: "From our perspective, we have done due diligence. We made a series of good faith to respond to the groupâs concerns. We visited the plant to validate healthy working conditions, we helped select the third party mediator, we have offered the group training, funding and other resources so they can return to productive work again and care for their families. And despite these active steps to address their concerns, some of them continue to make demands outside the legal and mediation process, and we canât do that. " BUT PARRA AND HIS SUPPORTERS DOUBT JUSTICE CAN BE ACHIEVED THROUGH THE COLOMBIAN LEGAL SYSTEM; TRADE UNIONISTS ARE MURDERED WITH IMPUNITY. IN 2012, AT LEAST 29 TRADE UNIONISTS WERE MURDERED. PARRA SAYS THE CAMPAIGN OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE IS NEEDED TO FORCE GM BACK TO NEGOTIATING TABLE. âWe have demonstrated the corruption of the legal system in Colombiaâ Where unfortunately, as I was mentioning, that doesnât exist. What we have shown General Motors, and with the strike in front of the embassy. It was simply a different type of struggle they were not expecting. Which is to show to the people, to society, what they were doing. Its not for the judges, or to our government, both of which are controlled by Moneyâ DESPITE CONCERNS FOR HIS FAILING HEALTH, PARRA HAS VOWED TO CONTINUE THE HUNGER-STRIKE UNTIL GM NEGOTIATES A JUST SETTLEMENT. REPORTING FOR THE REAL NEWS, THIS IS JAISAL NOOR IN DETROIT.
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