Injured GM workers to launch hunger strike Tuesday

Published On: Feb 11 2014 12:00:00 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 11 2014 12:07:41 AM EST


Three members with the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of GM-Colombia (ASOTRECOL) will begin a hunger strike on Tuesday.

The three are expected to consume nothing but clear liquids until General Motors agrees to new negotiations with ASOTRECOL, the organization said.

ASOTRECOL said the hunger strike will be "an effort to force GM to the negotiating table by increasing the public pressure on the company."

The workers of ASOTRECOL were fired from the General Motors plant in Colombia after suffering injuries on the job, leaving them without workers' compensation, medical coverage or job prospects to support their families, according to the organization.

The workers have camped out in tents outside the U.S. Embassy in Colombia since August 2011. In negotiations in August 2012, ASOTRECOL said General Motors offered the workers a pittance in compensation that wouldn't even have covered their medical costs.

To coincide with the first day of the hunger strike, U.S. supporters will hold a solidarity protest outside the GM Renaissance Center headquarters in Detroit from 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday.

"The event will feature autoworkers, students, religious leaders and people from diverse walks of life who condemn GM's business model in Colombia and around the world," ASOTRECOL said in a statement.

Feb. 11 was the date in 1937 that workers ended a 44-day sit-down occupation at four of GM's factories in Flint. ASOTRECOL said the workers' action had compelled GM to recognize the United Auto Workers union the day before.

"It has turned a blind eye to ASOTRECOL's situation and numerous other human rights violations in Colombia," said ASOTRECOL supporter Diana Sierra, of Ypsilanti. "The injured GM workers are living proof that the 'Labor Action Plan' that was attached to the recent U.S.-Colombia Free-Trade Agreement, and which was allegedly supposed to protect workers' rights, is really just a farce."

Tuesday will be the workers' fourth hunger strike. The first took place in August 2012, and the second and third took place in September 2012, the organization said.

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