Guatemala – trade unions in the firing line

Noé Ramirez Portela, General Secretary of the Izabal Banana Workers’ Union of Guatemala (SITRABI) visited the UK from 26 to 28 November 2015, during which he met UK trade unionists, government and opposition officials and journalists. He also spoke at the Latin America 2015 Conference.

His visit was co-ordinated by the TUC and Banana Link. Banana Link works towards fair and sustainable tropical fruit trade and production in partnership with plantation worker unions and small farmer organisations in Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean.

Guatemala has been described as the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists by the International Trade Union Confederation.

Since 2007, a total of 68 trade union leaders and representatives have been murdered, and a high number of attempted murders, kidnappings, break-ins, and death threats have been reported, along with torture.

SITRABI is the oldest private sector union in Guatemala and represents over 4,000 members in Del Monte and Del Monte supplier farms on the Caribbean coast. SITRABI has good relations with other local unions in other multinational and national plantations.

Noé was elected General Secretary of SITRABI in 2000, shortly after the union’s Executive Committee was forced at gun point to resign their posts and call off strike action over contract violations.

A video above is of Noé’s speech to the afternoon seminar, in which he outlines the challenges and the dangers of organising in Guatemala.

You can find out more on the BananaLink site here.

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Categories: Guatemala, Human Rights, Lobbying, Solidarity in Action

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