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Canada’s public sector union leaders arrived at Bogota airport on July 18 to begin a week-long labour tour to learn about the potential impact of a Canada-Colombia free trade deal on Colombian workers and their families.

The leaders were greeted by members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores Postales de Colombia (STPC - Union of Postal Workers) and the Association of Public Employees of the Human Rights Ombudsman (ASDEP), among others.

Arriving were John Gordon, national president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Paul Moist, national president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, and George Heyman, international vice-president of the National Union of Public and General Employees. Canadian Union of Postal Workers national president Denis Lemelin had arrived earlier in the week.

The welcoming party, including family members of the Colombian trade unionists, held high a hand-crafted banner with all four Canadian unions named on it. Balloon-topped umbrellas provided protection from the evening rain.

The group continues its tour of Colombia this week with more meetings and visits to examine human and labour rights, working conditions, and exchange views on free trade and the absence of labour and human rights guarantees. They plan to meet with the outgoing Canadian ambassador, government officials and members of the opposition. They will also discuss privatization and other problems with public sector trade unionists.

The leaders return to Canada on July 25.