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Colombia: Transforming Labour Conditions at Cerrejón

Reducing the 'Death Shift': A Game-Changing Agreement

In a recent development at Cerrejón, a prominent coal mining site in the north of Colombia, a groundbreaking agreement was reached between the company and the union. This agreement, aimed at reducing working hours and eliminating the hazardous 'death shift,' signifies a significant victory for the workers. For years, miners endured grueling schedules that jeopardised their health and safety and made a family life almost impossible. However, with the support of CNV Internationaal, vital strides have been made to address these longstanding issues.

The assistance provided by CNV Internationaal has proven instrumental in navigating the complexities of labour negotiations. With joint actions, the union was able to file complaints with the Ministry of Labour and prepare essential documents on wages, work hours, and salary composition. This collaborative effort laid the groundwork for the historic agreement that will see a new work schedule implemented by September 2024.

Colombia mining labour conditions Cerrejón

Addressing Issues through Comprehensive Action

Proactive measures, reaching beyond the negotiation table, have been taken to address broader concerns at Cerrejón. International due diligence studies were conducted to shed light on work schedule concerns and occupational health and safety. Additionally, a virtual labour clinic was organised to provide miners with a platform to seek guidance on labour-related matters, empowering them to assert their rights in the workplace.


Positive Impact Beyond the Workplace

The ripple effects of this agreement extend far beyond the immediate workforce. Formerly displaced workers who had lost their jobs elsewhere at the PRODECO company, are now being rehired by Cerrejón. This not only restores employment opportunities, but also ensures that these workers benefit from improved working conditions and safety standards.

Colombia mining labour conditions Cerrejón

Paving the Way for a Sustainable Future

Looking ahead, this agreement sets a powerful precedent for labour relations not only at Cerrejón mine, but across the entire mining sector. It demonstrates that with persistent trade union advocacy and support from organisations like CNV Internationaal, significant improvements in labour conditions are attainable. By prioritising workers' rights and fostering a collaborative environment, a healthier and more sustainable future is envisioned for everyone working in the industry.

Publication date 28 05 2024