Colombian GM Employees Sew Mouths Shut in Protest
After a year of fruitless protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, some former GM employees have sewn their mouths shut in a hunger strike against the company’s treatment of workers at its Colombian plant, pledging death if their grievances are not addressed.
They say GM has fired injured workers, refused to provide injury compensation and erased medical records.
“The sewing was extremely painful,” said Manuel Ospina, a father of five in his early 40s who was permanently disabled by a spinal cord injury. “But the more pain we suffer here every day, the more hunger we feel, hopefully we can force people to take notice. If we can’t resolve this problem, we will die trying.”
A fellow striker, Jorge Parra, said: “These problems are not isolated; they happen everywhere in our country. We are now all prepared to die to make someone do something about it.”
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
Parra and Ospina say more than 200 Colmotores employees have been injured while working at the automotive plant outside Colombia’s capital city of Bogota. Herniated discs, severe carpal tunnel syndrome, lumbar scoliosis and chronic tendonitis are among the list of complaints they claim many have suffered after years spent doing repetitive, physical work making GM’s car parts.
Instead of providing medical care and changing the work patterns of injured employees, GM fires them, according to the protesters, who last year set up the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-Workers of Colmotores (Asotrecol) in an attempt to defend their rights.