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Trade Union News from Finland
SASK campaigns with Amnesty Finland for trade union rights

Helsinki (23.04.2013 - Heikki Jokinen) The Trade union solidarity centre of Finland SASK is campaigning alongside the Finnish section of Amnesty International for trade union rights. The new campaign got underway on Monday 22nd April and focuses on the situation in Colombia.

On the campaign web pages (in Finnish) there is an appeal to the Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos. It implores the president to keep the promises of his government to end anti-union violence and remove the impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators.

Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world when it comes to trade union work. According to the statistics of the International Trade Union Confederation ITUC last year 35 trade union activists were murdered in Colombia. Ten people received death threats, 342 activists reported other threats and 16 were imprisoned because of their trade union activities.

The international campaign Justice for Colombia estimates that between January 2007 and June 2012 a total of 225 trade union activists were killed. That makes up more than half of all the murdered trade unionists in the world. Virtually nobody is punished for these murders.

"The Colombian government must begin to take more effective measures to defend threatened trade union activists and human rights champions according to their own wishes", says the acting communication manager of SASK Aleksi Vienonen.

"From Amnesty’s point of view the trade union activists are defending their human rights", says policy officer Anu Tuukkanen from the Finnish section of Amnesty International. "They are threatened because they use the rights guaranteed in the ILO agreements, like negotiating and organising strikes. The violence often occurs in connection with such activities."

This is the second time Amnesty and SASK have undertaken a joint campaign championing trade union rights. Last year they mounted a similar campaign in support of trade union activists in Iran. Independent trade unions are not allowed to operate in Iran and there are union leaders being held as prisoners of conscience.

Work for trade union rights is a natural part of Amnesty’s work. In 2007 Amnesty International published a report entitled Hazards at work: Trade unionists under attack in Colombia, and in 2011 issued a report on Iranian trade unionists' struggle for their rights. The Finnish section of Amnesty International has for many years now had a special group focusing on trade union rights.

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