76 Trade Unionists Murdered In 2008

2008 was another difficult and often dangerous year for trade unionists around the world, according to this year's ITUC Annual Survey of Trade Union Rights Violations.

The report details abuses of fundamental workers' rights in 143 countries.

76 trade unionists were killed due to their actions to defend workers' rights, and many more were attacked physically or subjected to harassment, intimidation or arrest by the authorities.  The report makes for depressing - but necessary - reading.

While the worldwide total of killings fell from 91 the previous year, the number of killings in Colombia, which is notorious as the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists, reached 49 – an increase of 10 over the previous year. The upsurge in killings took place despite assurances by the Administration of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe that the situation was improving.

Aside from the appalling toll in Colombia, nine unionists were murdered in Guatemala, which in recent years has seen an increase in violent attacks against trade union representatives and members. Four were killed in the Philippines as well as in Venezuela, three in Honduras, two in Nepal and one each in Iraq, Nigeria, Panama, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, where the Mugabe regime continued its reign of terror against the country’s union movement.

In some instances, governments were either directly or indirectly involved in the killings. A total of 50 serious death threats were recorded across seven countries as well, along with some 100 cases of physical assaults across 25 countries.