Report of UNISON West Midlands International Forum March 2021 – Unions in #Chile and #Colombia


UNISON is involved in a wide range of fields – one of which is international solidarity work. It is really important that trade union activists and members support other workers in different parts of the world, many of whom are organising under very difficult and dangerous circumstances.

A regional international forum is held 4-5 times per year to discuss different solidarity campaigns and to coordinate our work.

For the March meeting we welcomed speakers from the Chile Solidarity Network and Justice for Colombia.

There were common themes with both speakers – trade unionists and campaigners suffering repression from the state. For example, Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist with regular murders and threats.

The speaker on Chile talked about how mass protests in 2019 had been massive, with millions on the streets against attacks from the government. There are still remnants of the General Pinochet regime which came to power in the 1973 coup against a democratically elected left-wing government. The coup was backed by the CIA and later Pinochet became close friends with former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Tens of thousands of trade union activists were tortured, killed and some simply ‘disappeared’ never to be seen again causing huge grief for their families.

Likewise, in Colombia people take great risks by being trade union activists and fighting for workers rights. Both speakers were very inspiring – bad situations were detailed but it was also reported that despite everything workers, communities and their organisations find ways to organise and fight back and have been able to score victories.

To read more about the campaigns visit the links below

If you would like more information about our international work, or to get involved please contact