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  January 30, 2013

GM Rejects Talks as Ex-worker Enters 71st Day Of Hunger-Strike


Ex-workers and their supporters aim to pressure GM to negotiate with employees injured at auto plant in Colombia
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transcript

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 “WE ARE ASOTRECOL”

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,

THAT’S 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 WON’T NEGOTIATE FURTHER BECAUSE THE WORKERS

REJECTED THEIR FINAL OFFER AT THE TIME OF MEDIATION.

CLIP: ““We’ve 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 I’m not sure where he’s

coming from. From our perspective it was a very generous series of

offers. “

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 what’s most critical is that my surgeon told me I could end up in

a wheel-chair.

MCBRIDE STRONGLY DEFENDED THE COMPANY’S HANDLING OF THE

NEGOTIATIONS.

CLIP:

"From our perspective, we have done due diligence. We made a series of

good faith to respond to the group’s 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 can’t 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.

“We have demonstrated the corruption of the legal system in Colombia”

Where unfortunately, as I was mentioning, that doesn’t 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 Money”

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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