After rejecting the proposal all was quiet for a few hours. I rested in one of the hammocks, brought my flute down to play a few tunes under the marquee, and felt worried for those who had driven the decision to reject the proposal. If they lost, how would they feel? But I had seen that it was only those at the negotiating table, tired after hours of debate, that wanted to accept the first proposal.
Those at the blockades were firm in their convictions. They set about upping the pressure by blockading more roads out of the village to stopp all subcontracted workers buses, not just those of the directly employed miners. More branches, chunks of iron anmd t-shirts were strung together to turn the buses around.
At midnight came the news. The union had proposed direct contracts for two years and the after another 8 hours of nerve wracking negotiations and meetings of our negotiating team Caves had accepted and signed the papers-
Everyone was over the moon with this situation. The long tired faces of the nogotiating team were now beaming, smiles which had disappeared under the stress.
They have job stability for two years. With just one year they would have just got started negotiating better working conditions when they would have had to return to fight for their jobs. With two years they are confident they can achieve a lot as a union. In the next few weeks they will begin negotiations around pay, health, shift timetable, the community.
The convictions, focus and positive attitude won them a historical victory in Colombia. 18000 sugar cane cutters were on strike for 2 months fighting for direct contracts and did not win what these guys have won in two days.
I am meant to be resting at the moments and been ordered to stop working so will write more reflectionsafter a few days rest but wanted to let my wonderful family know that I am safe and feel really priviliged to have been able to accompany these amazing people as they have stood firm and fought for what they know they deserve. I am already planning my return to La Loma.