Colombia: Education union creates humanitarian fund to aid health workers and vulnerable sectors

published 31 March 2020 updated 1 April 2020

In response to the critical situation in Colombia as a result of COVID-19, with millions of people struggling with the self-isolation and quarantine requirements of the pandemic, the Federación Colombiana de Trabajadores de la Educación, FECODE, has created a "Humanitarian Solidarity Fund" to meet the needs of health workers, the educational community, informal workers and the most vulnerable sectors of the population in general.

Nelson Alarcón, president of FECODE (a member organisation of Education International), announced on Monday the decision taken by the union's Executive Committee to establish the humanitarian fund with an initial sum of $300 million. Regional unions will contribute to the fund to the extent of their financial capacity. The fund will also be supplemented by donations from FECODE executives, consultants, work teams and staff.

FECODE has also called on Colombian teachers to donated one day's pay by authorising a special payroll deduction. In addition, contributions are expected from other sectors, organisations and communities that wish to participate in the Solidarity Fund initiative.

According to the President of FECODE, guidelines regarding the administration, supervision, monitoring and verification of the destination of the funds will be drawn up in the next few hours.

Solidarity in the midst of a global crisis

“As teachers, we represent hope and become stronger in the face of challenges. FECODE stands in solidarity with and joins thousands of others who have tried to help those most in need of assistance in the wake of this pandemic”, reads the statement from the trade union federation.

“This moment of global crisis should give us ample opportunity to create new lessons on how we are consuming our planet's resources; on how research, education, health, basic sanitation and drinking water should be adequately financed by the government, and have a profound social focus, prioritising the public and protecting the environment”, the statement adds.

Investments needed

Furthermore, FECODE considers it essential that the government take major action in the national economy, using resources from international reserves, reversing the tax reform, distributing the profits of the Bank of the Republic and Ecopetrol, and renegotiating public and private debt, among other measures.

The teachers' union calls on all political, financial and industrial sectors, as well as the national government, to make prompt and informed decisions and avoid acting on greed and financial motivations.

“Solidarity is something inherent; it comes in practice and at the right time”, the FECODE Executive Committee declared in its statement.