Simpson Millar's Legal Director visits Colombia to advocate trade union values
On Sunday morning, 26 February Bryan Nott will join a delegation of trade unionists and advocates on a trip to Colombia to raise awareness and campaign for the rights of unions and their members.
The five-day trip has been organised by Justice for Colombia – a British NGO that campaigns for human rights, workers' rights, peace and social justice in Colombia.
Bryan who is Partner and Legal Director at Simpson Millar was invited to provide a legal perspective on the challenges facing trade unions and their members in South America’s third largest country.
“I was humbled to be invited on this trip alongside an admirable group of people, and hope I can make a contribution to a cause which faces so many challenges,” said Bryan. “Trade unionists and workers in Colombia battle injustices on a daily basis and it is no surprise that the country’s trade union membership remains a tiny fraction of its 46 million citizens.
“We are not there to preach but rather to share our experiences from the UK, explore the issues and offer advice and support to those working to improve the situation on the ground.”
Bryan and the 17 other delegates will fly from Heathrow early on Sunday morning – arriving in Bogota late in the afternoon. They will return on 2 March.
“I expect it will be emotionally challenging to meet and talk to people who have next to nothing. But those who have been before say it is also encouraging to witness what people are capable of and how far they will go to protect their rights. Hopefully we can encourage those who are trying to promote the benefits of an active trade union organisation.”
For security reasons the full itinerary cannot be published but, amongst others, the delegation will meet with: ‘Mothers of Soacha’ (mothers of mothers of young men who were the victims of extrajudicial executions); visit Bogota Women’s prison to meet with imprisoned trade unionists and other political prisoners; meet Congressmen and Senators from Colombia’s opposition party, the Democratic Pole; and the group might even get a chance to meet with Columbia’s President, Foreign Secretary, Minister of Labour, Minister of Defence or the Attorney General.
About Justice for Colombia
In 2002 a group of British trade union leaders visited Colombia as the first official delegation from the UK to visit the country. Brendan Barber, now leader of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), was amongst the group as were the then leaders of several other trade unions such as Ken Cameron (FBU), Rory Murphy (Unifi) and Mick Rix (ASLEF). During the week that they were in Colombia six trade union activists were assassinated and the group returned home vowing to work to raise awareness of what was happening in Colombia and to look at ways to provide concrete solidarity to the Colombian people and trade unions. The following year, Justice for Colombia was launched at a conference attended by 400 people at the TUC’s headquarters. The organisation now has the support of 14 trade unions.
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