Parra, who arrived in Detroit on Sept. 5th, is here in an attempt to restart negotiations with GM about compensation for injuries he and 200 other GM assembly plant workers in Bogotá, Colombia sustained while working in the automaker’s Chevrolet car and truck plant there. The workers are requesting that they be rehired and retrained by GM for jobs they can perform with their medical conditions and that GM provide pensions for those too disabled to return to work, in addition to paying back wages for the time they have been without work.
The group of GM workers formed ASOTRECOL and went on strike after being fired from GM. Their disabling injuries left them unemployable and unable to support their families. GM has refused to compensate them for these disabilities or provide them with access to medical care. Since the US government still owns a large stake in General Motors, the workers camped outside the United States embassy in Bogota for one year. With no movement toward mediation, the group outside the embassy went on hunger strike with four of the ex-workers sewing their mouths shut on August 1, followed by another three men a week later. The strike was later suspended when an agreement was reached to begin mediation.
The mediation between the workers and GM Colmotores, brokered by the U.S. Ambassador to Colombia and mediated by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, ended without a settlement late last week. On Monday, the workers returned to their hunger strike, with seven of them sewing their mouths shut. Jorge Parra will continue his hunger strike, along with the other workers in Colombia and supporters from the U.S., until a settlement is reached with GM.
Toronto Star: GM Workers Sew Mouths Shut in Protest
International Business Times: Former General Motors Colombia Employee Brings Hunger Strike to CEO Akerson’s Detroit Doorstep
Truthout: US Protests Tell GM to Resolve Colombian Hunger Strike
Labor Notes: Colombian Hunger Strikers Sew Lips Back Shut