Colombia: Congresswomen and unions request the Ministry of Labour to protect the rights of Viva Air workers

March 7, 2023

Following the cessation of operations of the airline Viva Air Colombia, entire families are being left without a livelihood. Today it was learned that some five thousand workers are threatened with becoming unemployed, with especially profound effects on pregnant women and sick workers, pre-pensioners, activists, and union leaders.

For this reason, Chamber representatives Jennifer Pedraza and María Fernanda Carrascal, (together) along with the SINTRATAC (Sindicato de los Trabajadores del Transporte Aéreo Colombiano, Servicios Logística y Conexos), ACAV (Asociación Colombiana de Auxiliares de Vuelo), ACDAC (Asociación Colombiana de Aviadores Civiles), ACMA (Asociación Colombiana de Mecánicos de Aviación), and The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) called on the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aeronautics to urgently take the necessary measures to resolve the situation of the airline’s workers.

The requests include:

  1. That a tripartite working group be installed to build, together with the trade union organizations, an action plan to protect the jobs and labour rights of Viva Air Colombia workers.
  2. That the airline ceases offering voluntary retirement to workers as this seriously affects people with enhanced employment stability.
  3. That the Ministry of Labour prohibit the airline from pressuring or signing voluntary retirement agreements with any of its employees, as this mechanism could constitute a collective dismissal, violating fundamental labour rights.
  4. A prompt decision on the integration of Viva Air and Avianca Holding S.A. that guarantees current jobs and the protection of workers’ rights, especially the fundamental rights of freedom of association and use of the legal powers that the Ministry of Transport must protect the right to free competition (article 32 of Law 1340 of 2009).

Additionally, it is important to note that, based on article 67 of Law 50 of 1990, in order to effect collective layoffs or terminate work, partially or totally, employers must request prior authorization from the Ministry of Labour, a procedure that has not yet been carried out by Viva Air Colombia.

This crisis must be an opportunity to apply the principle of social dialogue, endorsed by the International Labour Organization (ILO) as a fundamental strategy for finding comprehensive solutions that respect the fundamental rights of all parties involved.

Bogotá, March 6, 2023

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