Former General Motors workers in Columbia have been demonstrating outside the United States Embassy in Bogota for over a year now. They are trying to get attention that will demand Colombian authorities and Detroit based General Motors to address their grievances. This grievances are based around wanting compensation for injuries received on the job. One of the former workers, Jorge Para, 35, states that he was fired after suffering for years of on the job injuries, including muscle tears and herniated discs. He said, for those he has had three costly surgeries and General Motors will not pick up his medical bills. Along with medical compensation, they want help finding new jobs.
Due to how long the former workers have gone without any relieve from their efforts at demonstrating, they felt the need to step things up and as of three weeks ago, a hunger strike began. In regard to this, Para says, “We are all totally prepared to die. I have terrible pains in my stomach, my lips are swollen and sore, and I am having problems sleeping … But I will not give up.” His lips are sewn up loose enough to where he can talk, but not enough to allow food to pass through.
The hunger strike started on August 1st when seven former workers sewed their mouths shut with a needle and thread. They said more would be joining them in this type of protest. Para commented, “We are now in a critical situation and we had to do something serious.”
General Motors denies any wrong doings, including tampering and destroying records at their Colmotores plant in Columbia. Amongst the accusations of firing employees who are injured on the job, General Motors is also being accused of capitalizing on Columbia’s tax labor laws.