Social Dialogue in Colombia
In February 2016, the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish labour union, LO/FTF Council, launched a new social dialogue project in Colombia. The project aims to strengthen the bi- and tripartite social dialogue between the Colombian social partners seeking to eventually create a more stable labour market in the country. The project will be implemented in partnership with Colombia’s largest business and employers’ organisation and three largest labour unions.
With an expected GDP growth of 4.2 % in 2016-2019, rich natural resources, improved trade regimes, and a decreasing poverty rate, Colombia stands before a promising future. However, the country also faces vast challenges in terms of labour market instability, inequality, social insecurity, a large informal economy, and internal conflicts.
Colombia has been haunted by internal conflicts for more than five decades. Peace has been negotiated for many years, most recently in the Havana Process between the Colombian government headed by President Juan Manuel Santos and the guerrilla movement Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). After multiple previous attempts to reach a peace agreement, the Havana Process – that started in November 2013 – now seems promising in terms of reaching consensus and signing a final document. The two parties have set themselves the deadline 23rd of March 2016.
Considering these developments, the social dialogue project is very timely. A potential end of conflict will pose challenges for the Colombian society and the social partners but not least also open a window of opportunity to improve the labour market. Reintegration into the labour market of young ex-combatants of the armed conflict will be a dominant issue in the coming years demanding a strong role of the social partners and their cooperation. The social dialogue project will support this endeavour as well as address other challenges on the labour market, including a minimum degree of unionisation, collective bargaining agreements and negotiations.
The project will also open up for tightened commercial relations between Denmark and Colombia. As South America’s 4th largest economy with a population of nearly 50 million and rich natural resources, Colombia represents an interesting market for Danish companies, which was manifested by the opening of the Danish embassy in Bogotá and a business delegation in 2014.
The social dialogue project will run over three years with financing from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.