In the complaint, filed with the International Labor Organization (ILO) in early June, and in the protests, Colombian workers have denounced Tenaris’s repeated attacks on the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining that have been taking place since October 2017.
Persecution of the union began when the company sanctioned the president of Sintratucar, Walberto Marrugo, for having created a WhatsApp group for young workers with part-time contracts to report on their working conditions.
The young workers revealed that they were not trained in safety issues and carried out tasks that exposed them to potential accidents at work. The company retaliated by forcing them to leave the union under threat of dismissal.
Tenaris refused to engage in collective bargaining until it was compelled to following an intervention from the ministry of labour at Sintratucar’s request.
However, the outcomes were not good – the company made an unacceptable proposal that included a clause stating there would be no wage increases, and job stability would be eliminated.
Futhermore, the company suspended seven union leaders for seven days without pay after they distributed a pamphlet on collective bargaining.
In addition, another 31 leaders and affiliates were sanctioned with 210 days of salary loss.
The firm also sanctions unionized workers who refuse to work overtime on their days off with up to three days of lost wages.
In September 2017, IndustriALL Global Union filed a complaint with the National Contact Point of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Luxembourg against Ternium (which, like Tenaris is part of the Techint group), for violations of union rights in Guatemala.
Writing in a letter to Paolo Rocca, CEO of Techint Group on 20 June, IndustriALL General Secretary, Valter Sanches, said:
“We urge you to intervene immediately and provide a just solution to the conflicts at steel plants of Tenaris TuboCaribe in Colombia and Ternium in Guatemala. IndustriALL is fully committed to supporting the workers, together with the Tenaris Ternium World Workers Council. IndustriALL reiterates its commitment to establish a solid and mature social dialogue with Tenaris and Ternium, that can both prevent and resolve conflicts, in addition to creating dignified work conditions globally.”
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