Workers Uniting condemns military coup in Honduras

Urges suspension of all military aid

PITTSBURGH and LONDON, July 1 -- Workers Uniting, the international union comprised of the North American-based United Steelworkers and UK-based Unite the Union and representing 3.5 million workers, stands in solidarity with our fellow unions in Honduras -- including the Unitary Central of Honduran Workers, the Confederation of Honduran Workers and the General Workers Central -- as well as with the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas, in condemning the military coup that resulted in the illegal ousting of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.

'This coup represents a huge step backward for this Hemisphere and simply cannot be tolerated,' said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

'We call upon the U.S. government to take all peaceful steps, including the withdrawal of all assistance to the military which carried out this coup, to ensure the safe return of President Zelaya to Honduras and to his rightful place as president.'

Ken Neumann, the USW Canadian National Director said, 'We are shocked by the violent and unlawful seizure of power by the military in Honduras and unite with those around the world calling for the peaceful return of constitutional democracy and civilian rule to that country. This can only be accomplished by the return of President Zelaya without conditions.'

'We condemn the violent retribution, including tear gassing and arrests, carried out by the Honduran military against the thousands of people from civil society organizations, including trade unions, who assembled to demand that democratic order be restored and the president returned,' stated Unite joint General Secretary Derek Simpson.

Workers Uniting calls upon the United Nations, Organization of American States and the U.S., Canada, UK and Ireland to take all measures within their diplomatic powers to ensure that all Honduran civilians, and particularly trade unionists and social activists denouncing the coup, are safe and secure and will not be victimized by violence and repression.

'This is a critical moment in the history of Latin America,' said Tony Woodley, joint General Secretary of Unite. 'We cannot return to a time when military coups were common-place events in the region.'

'The only way to ensure that we will not return to this time is for people of good will around the world to stand with the working people of Honduras in calling for a return of President Zelaya to power, and for the Honduran military to respect the human rights of those protesting against the illegal coup,' Woodley added.

Workers Uniting has issued the statement below condemning this coup d'etat:

Workers Uniting, representing 3.5 million workers in North America, the UK and Ireland, unequivocally condemns the military coup and kidnapping of the democratically elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.

President Zelaya was working to free his country from decades of hunger and poverty until he was abruptly thwarted in these efforts by the Honduran military.

This military coup is an illegal attempt to use armed force to overturn the course of democracy and social progress chosen by the Honduran people at the polls, and we call upon the nations of the world, and especially the U.S., UK and Canada, to officially declare the seizure of power by the military in Honduras a 'military coup' and to act accordingly. In the case of the U.S., this means withholding all military assistance unless and until President Zelaya is returned to power.

Meanwhile, the military and coup conspirators are trying to suppress popular demonstrations by unions and other social groups by violence and arrests; are illegally shutting down critical news outlets; establishing a blanket military presence and setting illegal curfews. We condemn these acts as well, and call upon the Honduran military to respect the human rights of all, including those demonstrating for a peaceful return to civilian and constitutional rule.

We join the OAS and UN in condemning the military seizure of power in Honduras as a giant step backward for the Western Hemisphere, and an act which simply cannot be tolerated. We therefore call upon our respective governments to take all peaceful, diplomatic measures to ensure the return of President Zelaya to his rightful place as President of Honduras. We further support the efforts of the OAS, UN and other Latin American leaders to accompany President Zelaya back to Honduras on Thursday, July 2, 2009, and call upon others to join them in this effort.

[Signed]

Leo W. Gerard, USW International President

Ken Neumann, USW Canadian National Director

Derek Simpson, Unite the Union Joint General Secretary

Tony Woodley, Unite the Union Joint General Secretary