4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Bolivia

The ITUC does not have an affiliate in Bolivia.

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Barriers to trade union recognition 31-08-2016

In August 2016, the trade union executive at Fino in Santa Cruz denounced that the union had not received recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. due to the imposition of conditions exceeding the legal and constitutional requirements, which constitutes a breach of the right to organise. According to the workers, “Both the government-controlled federation of factory workers, Federación de Fabriles, and the labour directorate are working to block independent trade union leaders’ access to legal recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. .”

The workers also reported that the Labour Ministry had issued a series of resolutions that hinder the legal recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of union executives who do not serve the interests of the government, employers and the current heads of the federation of factory workers, Federación de Fabriles. The resolutions issued to union executives elected by their membership include the requirement to submit military service papers, the trade union’s constitution, legal status, the call for elections, and a certificate from the federation of factory workers confirming their accession to the leadership. These preconditions are deemed illegal given that, in accordance with the Political Constitution of the State, trade union executive committees should be approved upon simple presentation of the recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. issued by the corresponding federation.

In the case of the trade union at Fino, the Director of Labour claimed that “there was no call for elections” and the leadership elected was not therefore legitimate. The workers nonetheless insist that a meeting was held and attended by the members, who voted directly and re-elected the leadership from the previous term. For the workers, the failure to recognise their union executive “provides the management with ammunition for not recognising their leaders and promoting parallel trade unions”. These barriers to recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. , according to the workers’ report, correspond to a pattern of conduct on the part of the authorities in charge of issuing trade union recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. .

Undue intervention, parallel union and intimidation of Industrias Copacabana workers30-11-2016

In November 2016, the Sindicato de Trabajadores Mixto de Industrias Copacabana, in La Paz, denounced the contempt shown by Industrias Copacabana S.A. for the list of demands submitted to the management in May 2016. Although the company met some of the demands, there continues to be undue interference in the actions of the trade union, attempts to promote a parallel trade union and the violation of freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
in the form of threats to dismiss workers joining the union. According to trade union members, the company is imposing clauses and conditions on waiting staff and kitchen helps, forbidding them from joining the trade union under the threat of losing their jobs.

The list of demands being ignored includes respect for job security, an end to discrimination at work, the reinstatement of the employees dismissed, most particularly the union’s executive secretary, Víctor Choquehuanca, an end to the company’s interference in the trade union’s affairs, an end to labour outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out , and the disqualification of the company-backed trade union, led by a former union leader who is no longer recognised by the company’s workers.

The dispute between the workers and the company began in 2015 with a sit-down strike sit-down strike A form of industrial action whereby workers occupy their workplace but do not carry out any work.

See strike
that brought various agencies of Industrias Copacabana S.A. to a temporary close. In light of the situation, a meeting mediated by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security was held in October 2015, at which the agreement reflected in the list of demands, was reached. Faced with company’s failure to comply, the workers belonging to the union declared a state of emergency and did not rule out the possibility of an all-out strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
suspending all services. This violation of trade union rights follows a pattern of abuses at the company.

Criminal prosecution in retaliation for strike action at ENVACRUZ30-06-2016

In June 2016, four trade union leaders working for ENVACRUZ in the city of Santa Cruz were summoned by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to respond to criminal charges brought against them by the company’s owner, in retaliation for the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
called by the union. The entrepreneur was claiming that the workers’ stoppage, despite being authorised by the Labour Ministry, was affecting the free movement of his goods and violating the right to work. For the workers, the action constitutes judicial harassment, violating trade union protection rights.

The workers had been on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
for over two months, awaiting the resolution of their demands for the payment of wages due since April, the double year-end bonus from 2015, back pay back pay Wages or benefits due an employee for past employment. Often awarded when the employee has been unfairly dismissed. Not to be confused with retroactive pay (delayed payment for work previously done at a lower wage rate). from 2015 and 2016, their health and social security contributions and the reimbursement of pension fund contributions deducted from their salaries but not paid into the scheme, the breastfeeding allowance and pre-natal subsidy, among others. They decided to continue with the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in spite of the legal action. In the absence of a positive response from the company, the workers opted to initiate legal proceedings in support of their claims. The employees reported that they had always had good relations with the company prior to this dispute, which would indicate that this is an isolated incident and does not correspond to a pattern of systematic violations.

Trade union leaders unfairly dismissed at MITSUBA15-02-2016

At the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, several trade union leaders and ordinary member at the MITSUBA apparel company in Santa Cruz were unfairly dismissed.

The workers declared a sit-down strike sit-down strike A form of industrial action whereby workers occupy their workplace but do not carry out any work.

See strike
in response to the dismissals, the company’s failure to comply with the collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreement and its violation of the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and trade union protection.
The workers reported that the management threatened to use force to break the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, despite their action being authorised by the Departmental Director of Labour. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
was ended after two weeks, when an agreement was reached securing the reinstatement of three of the four trade union leaders dismissed and the payment of 50% of the wages for the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
days.

A number of the workers dismissed had also filed an application with the Labour Ministry for constitutional protection. The Ministry found that the leaders had been unfairly dismissed and ordered the company to reinstate them. The Ministry ordered their reinstatement despite the company’s claims that its violation of the provisions protecting union leaders against dismissal was motivated by an economic crisis obliging it to cut jobs.

Trade union leaders fired in retaliation for list of demands at hat factory in Sucre18-10-2016

In October 2016, 11 workers (including trade union leaders and people with disabilities) were fired from the Fábrica de Sombreros de Sucre hat factory on the pretext that it was being transferred. The workers, however, insisted that their dismissal was in retaliation for a list of demands presented in defence of their labour rights.

From the moment they were issued with notice of termination, the Departmental Labour Authority of Chuquisaca, together with the trade union centres Federación Departamental de Fabriles de Chuquisaca, Federación Departamental de Constructores de Sucre and Central Obrera Departamental (COB), worked hard to ensure respect for the legal regulations protecting job security.

The departmental head of labour in Chuquisaca, Juan Pablo Yucra, considered the layoffs to have been made under false pretences, affecting workers protected against dismissal in their capacity as trade union representatives, and consequently ordered the management to reinstate them immediately. This order was issued in defence of the labour rights enshrined in and protected by the political constitution of the state, such as the right to work, to job security, labour immobility and the protection of trade union representatives. A week later, the company reinstated all the workers, in compliance with the order issued by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security. Finally, the departmental head of labour confirmed that inspectors had verified the workers had been able to return to their posts unimpeded. This violation seems to be an isolated incident and is not part of a systematic union-busting campaign.

Trade union leaders at Red Uno S.A. unfairly dismissed17-11-2016

In October 2016, 23 workers from the Alianza Uno trade union, who took part in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
lasting almost 2 months, received notice of dismissal from the general management of the television station Red Uno in La Paz.

The labour dispute labour dispute See industrial dispute began when the trade union presented a list of demands, which the company disregarded. The Departmental Labour Authority for Santa Cruz subsequently issued an arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
award in favour of the workers, which the management also ignored, leading the workers to take strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action.

According to the union’s leader, Losé Luis Patuy, all the workers who took part in the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
were summoned one by one to put pressure on them regarding an arbitration arbitration A means of resolving disputes outside the courts through the involvement of a neutral third party, which can either be a single arbitrator or an arbitration board. In non-binding arbitration, the disputing parties are free to reject the third party’s recommendation, whilst in binding arbitration they are bound by its decision. Compulsory arbitration denotes the process where arbitration is not voluntarily entered into by the parties, but is prescribed by law or decided by the authorities.

See conciliation, mediation
award issued by the Labour Ministry, which recognised the payment of overtime and a wage increase. Rather than having them return to work, they were issued with notices of termination for having abandoned their posts.

The unfair dismissal of the unionised workers is seen as a reprisal for their involvement in the mobilisation to defend their rights. Their dismissal follows a pattern of abuses at the company violating the workers’ rights.

The measure was declared illegal by the Labour Ministry. The workers unfairly dismissed immediately lodged an appeal for constitutional protection. Following the intervention of the Labour Ministry, the Ninth Family Court of Santa Cruz decided to grant protection to the Red UNO workers and ordered their immediate reinstatement in November 2016.

Decree imposes recognition requirement for trade unions 01-05-2015

On 1 May 2015 the Evo Morales government issued a special decree on trade unions and other labour regulations requiring their registration as a legal entity and their recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. by means of a Supreme Resolution issued by the President. Supreme Decree 2348 states that as from 1 May 2015, every workers’ trade union organisation would not only have to apply for legal personality but would also have to be recognised by means of a Supreme Resolution, namely with the signature of the President, who would determine the existence of trade unions.

Other violations14-01-2014

On 14 January 2014, workers from the Sigma consortium, in the department of Santa Cruz, staged action to demand the payment of wages owed since the month of November 2013.

Clash between Bolivian police and union protesters06-05-2013

At least seven people were injured on 6 May 2013, in a clash between groups of demonstrators and Bolivian police, who used tear gas to clear one of the highways cut off by workers affiliated with the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB). The Deputy Interior Minister, Jorge Perez, said at a press conference that three of the injured were police and four were demonstrators who were participating in the protest the union staged near the central city of Cochabamba. Police arrested 37 people in the confrontation, but they were released a few hours later after being identified and processed. The COB led the blockades on Monday and staged a hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in state-run hospitals to demand that President Evo Morales implement changes in the pension law to improve the income of retirees.

Government agrees to COB’s demands, but slow to implement agreement02-03-2011

On 2 March, following strong protests and demonstrations by Bolivia’s unions, President Evo Morales unilaterally ordered a 10% pay increase for public employees in the education and health sectors, the police and armed forces, and a 20% increase in the minimum wage. The unions were demanding a 15% increase in the public sector. The Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) tried to negotiate with the government, but the workers finally rejected the agreement on a 10% increase. Strikes and protests were resumed. After several long hard days in La Paz, an additional 1% was secured, plus another 1% after July, subject to the availability of sufficient budget funds, hence 2% in total, bringing the rise up to 12%.

On 19 April, the COB signed an eight-point agreement with the government and called an end to the general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. The document established a pay increase of 11%, and the possibility of raising it to 12% for education and health workers, after indentifying a source of financing that would not lead to a fiscal deficit.

Agreement was also reached on stimulating production, the National Health Fund (CNS), full implementation of trade union immunity provisions, respect for the agreement signed in Panduro in April 2010, measures to guarantee food security and the revision of laws 2027 and 2028 on municipal and public employees, to bring them into line with the new Political Constitution of the State.

The Central Obrera Boliviana (COB) called for protest marches on 6 October to press for the implementation of the agreement signed between the trade union center and the government in April, to provide the workers with the pay rise promised. At the end of 2011, following the COB’s announcement of plans to hold new protests, the government applied the additional 2% rise agreed on.

Negotiating difficulties at San Cristóbal mine, controlled by Sumitomo23-03-2011

Workers at the San Cristóbal silver, zinc and lead mines, owned by the Japanese trading company Sumitomo Corporation, downed tools on 23 March 2011 for 12 days in support of demands for better health care benefits. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
was called off at the end of this period, following the Labour Ministry’s intervention, but some of the demands have still not been met.

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