Union complains at UK minister's Colombia slur

18 March 2008

ASLEF has joined other unions in complaining to the Foreign Secretary David Miliband about ‘derogatory and incorrect’ statements made by Foreign Office Kim Howells about the Justice for Colombia (JFC) campaign. It says if the minister will not withdraw the incorrect statements, he should resign.


Minister Howells told a newspaper last week that JFC supported the FARC, a revolutionary guerrilla movement. ASLEF General Secretary Keith Norman says he denounces this statement ‘without reservation’. He points out that Justice for Colombia has the support of dozens of British trade unions as well as counting more than half of the Parliamentary Labour Party among its supporters.


Keith says, ‘ASLEF has been proud to host JFC for several years in our Hampstead offices where I’ve seen at first hand the important work the organisation does such as assisting thousands of Colombian trade unionists and victims of state sponsored terror and violence.’


He fears that Kim Howells’s ‘highly misjudged comments’ have significantly compromised the group’s ability to send future delegations to the country, ‘missions so crucial to legitimising Colombian trade unionism and providing support in their often life threatening endeavours’.


The general secretary wants the untrue comments withdrawn or says the minister should resign. ‘At no stage has JFC supported this armed guerrilla movement,’ he said.


He has also asked the Foreign Secretary to clarify the government’s policy on Colombia and reaffirm your commitment to the freedom and right to self determination for Colombian trade unionists.

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