Colombia

The ITUC affiliates in Colombia are the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), the Confederación de Trabajadores de Colombia (CTC) and the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT).

In practice

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When the private company Aguas Capital acquired the public water and sewage system of Cúcuta, there was hope among the workers that their working conditions would be improved. Their pay, however, decreased by between 10 and 15%. And the situation continued in the same vein during the following years.

Then came the legal troubles of the Nule brothers, the majority shareholders of Aguas Capital, which ran into many difficulties as a result. It managed to overcome these difficulties, but the workers were left with even more precarious conditions. Twenty five workers consequently decided to organise as a trade union to fight for their rights. They set up a branch of the Sindicato de Trabajadores y Empleados de Servicios Públicos Domiciliarios de Norte de Santander, affiliated to the CTC. Its membership soon rose to a hundred.

The union representatives presented a 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
proposal, but the company not only refused to negotiate it but closed the doors to them, forbid them from giving out information or posting notices. They were stigmatised, explains Jonathan Díaz, the union’s vice president. It also dismissed 20 temporary workers, for simply mixing with people from the union.

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 was not possible, given that it is a public service, so the union took the dispute to the Court of 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
, but the company did everything possible to delay the process. In light of this, the union submitted the case to the Committee for Handling Cases referred to the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
(CETCOIT), and managed to have the company agree to 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
negotiations. A collective agreement was signed, covering the 110 unionised workers, in November 2013. One of its main achievements was to secure rates of pay above the legal minimum wage at Aguas Capital Cúcuta.

Just a few days later, however, the company held a big campaign in favour of the collective pact for non-unionised workers, arguing that they would enjoy the same advantages as under the collective agreement but without having to pay union dues. The pact was, in fact, a carbon copy of the collective agreement, barring a few titles that were changed.

The union adopted a wait and see policy, observing the reaction to the pact, to avoid any conflict between the workers. The company failed to comply with certain clauses of the pact, giving rise to dissatisfaction among the workers. The union seized the opportunity to convince one of the pact’s leaders to join the union, which he did, and publically withdrew from the pact in spite of the pressure placed on him. He even received threatening calls at work, warning him to leave the union. The union’s treasurer was also followed and threatened.

As of that moment, the balance of power changed and following a strong campaign the union managed to convince large numbers of workers to leave the pact and join the union. It now has 295 members, which represents more than a third of the company’s employees. Having achieving the status of a majority union, the pact was defeated and the collective agreement now covers all the workers. It also succeeded in putting an end to the fixed-term contracts, and all the workers at Aguas Capital Cúcuta now have permanent contracts.

The Spanish bank BBVA inherited the collective pact drawn up by Gran Ahorrar, following the merger between the two banks in 2005. It also inherited the collective agreement managed by three trade unions: ACEB (the largest and the oldest of the three), UNEB and SintraBBVA (company-level union), which had a combined membership of 2,500 at the time, out of a total workforce of 5,200. The collective agreement therefore applied to all the staff at the bank.

Following the merger, the bank modernised and improved its technological platform, which gave rise to staff cuts and a change in labour policy. The workload increased and the bank concluded large numbers of “voluntary” agreements to free itself of the longest-serving employees, in addition to those fired as a result of stricter disciplinary procedures. It managed, in this way, to rid itself of 600 workers, most of them unionised, according to María Consuelo Bautista of the national executive of the ACEB.

“The unionised workers were presented with two options: they could benefit from an additional 20% in severance pay for agreeing to leave the bank or be dismissed in any case with no more than the statutory severance pay. Many therefore opted to accept the deal and leave. What’s more, the office managers were given bonuses if they managed to get rid of union members,” explains Bautista.

At the same time, the bank launched a policy of subcontracting staff through temporary employment agencies. As a result, eight years on, almost a third of the staff in the various areas of the BBVA’s financial business is subcontracted.

As a result of all this, the union was left with less than a third of the employees, and the company was able to impose a collective pact. This took place in April 2006, when a group of workers was called to sign documents with a view to renewing the pact, in a blatant move to undermine the union," explains María Consuelo Bautista.

And the strategy worked: the unions that, a few years ago, had a combined membership representing the majority of the staff now only represent a minority. Eighty per cent of the bank’s staff is covered by the collective pact and the rest by collective agreement, which, moreover, offers fewer benefits than the pact. In addition, the bank awards a variety of assessment-based bonuses that can add up to $3 million a year. But the assessments are subjective and biased, as the workers who belong to the union are poorly assessed and never receive bonuses, explains Bautista. Those covered by the pact also receive better education and maternity allowances.

People stay in the union because they are committed to the fight, and because the collective agreement has one advantage that the pact does not: stability, thanks to a clause that dates back to before 1990, establishing that fair dismissal must be proved before a court. The bank wanted to eliminate this clause during the negotiation of the agreement in 2009, but the three unions united to defend it.

“In some dismissal cases, however, the courts have ruled in the company’s favour,” adds Bautista. “In other words, they are taking the stability advantage away from us though legal channels, whatever the cost.”

There is, however, a great deal of anxiety among the members of the pact, who are under increasing pressure to improve their performance and meet ever-higher targets, under threat of sanctions or dismissal. There is less pressure of this kind on the union members, which is a good reason to leave the pact and join the union.

Another issue denounced by the union is that the rules set out in the Substantive Labour Code were not followed during the renewal of the collective pact (2013-2015 period). The company paid a polling company to determine the viability of the pact, and did not follow the prior complaint procedure. It simply called on the workers to elect their representatives and signed the new pact with them.

“Agreement 01 of 1977” is the name of a benefits plan for non-unionised workers at Ecopetrol that has been in place for 37 years. It is, in fact, the equivalent of a collective pact, in the sense that it is a benefits scheme that differs from that established under the collective agreement.

“I call it a de facto pact, as it has never been negotiated with the workers and it does not comply with the procedures set out by the Substantive Labour Code,” says Edwin Palma, vice president of USO. “It is an agreement drawn up by Ecopetrol’s Board of Directors, setting more beneficial labour conditions for workers who do not unionise. That’s why USO’s membership within Ecopetrol has not grown. Trade union members account for less than a third of the total workforce. The only reason we are strong now is because around 20,000 of the 30,000 subcontracted workers within Ecopetrol’s various subsidiaries are currently affiliated to the USO.”

Agreement 01 covers over 6,000 workers whilst the collective agreement only covers around 3,000. “But the strange thing is that these 6,000 workers are supposedly supervisory, managerial and executive employees, meaning that they account for double the number of operational workers, which is absurd,” adds Palma.

As a rule, every time there is a 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
round with the USO, the benefits in the Agreement are changed. The company includes what is negotiated with the USO in the Agreement, sometimes improving on it so that the terms are better than those in the collective agreement. The Agreement, for example, contains a number of more attractive benefits, such as courses abroad, study grants or subsidies, etc. “It is a tool that seriously affects the unionisation rate at Ecopetrol,” adds the union leader.

In light of this, the national executive of the USO decided, this year, to take legal action to put an end to Agreement 01 and thus guarantee 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
at Ecopetrol. To be able to exercise this right, the union needs to unionise over a third of the workers.

The challenge is to win over the 6,000 non-unionised workers who, under the guise of being supervisory and managerial employees, are seeing their labour rights being undermined on many levels, suffering abuses such as harassment and an ever-increasing workload, etc. “We have been supporting these workers over the last four months and are achieving high membership rates,” concludes Palma Egea. The USO, he adds, is also interested in promoting lawsuits against two other oil industry companies with collective pacts: Terpel and Wadford, both with USO members.

Ave Colombiana is a company producing electrical goods. It was found by an Italian 50 years ago and is currently owned by his sons. Its production facilities are located on Via Zipaquirá-Nemocón, where it employs 150 workers, 28 of whom are members of Sintrabel and the Zipaquirá branch of the industrial trade union Sintrametal.

In 2005, when the company was in difficulty and filed for bankruptcy, the unionised workers made a commendable gesture, freezing the benefits under the collective agreement in order to save the company and their jobs. In 2009, however, exploiting the internal divisions in the union, the company imposed a collective pact on the non-unionised workers, offering the same benefits as the collective agreement.

This dealt a hard blow to the trade union, according to John Fredy González, president of Sintrametal Zipaquirá, as many members left the union and yielded to the pact, given that they could enjoy the same benefits as under the collective agreement without having to pay union dues.

At the same time, the company started to pressure and harass the unionised workers. Anyone not covered by the legal protection afforded to trade union representatives was dismissed. González himself suffered persecution and harassment on assuming the presidency of the trade union.

“My colleagues are afraid of taking on leadership roles in the union, but not me. I’m studying law for this reason. I know the laws and I already have more tools to defend myself and the union,” he says.

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
negotiations came to an end in February. As no agreement was reached, the dispute is currently being handled by the Court of 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
.

Colpensiones is a state-owned industrial and commercial company attached to the Ministry of Labour and Finance, set up in 2011 to administer the pensions system, which was previously administered by the Social Security Institute. It started out with 60 employees, but a year later it hired 1,100 workers across the country. Most of them were former employees of the Social Security Institute and the National Social Security Fund (Cajanal).

A collective pact was established at the same time, but without following the procedures established by law, that is, without holding a workers’ assembly or negotiations. The company simply had each new employee sign the pact as a voluntary agreement between the employer and the worker. It included a note explicitly stating that anyone joining a trade union would lose the benefits granted under the pact, which included a bonus paid in June, a productivity bonus and two additional leave days.

The 1,100 employees were not able to cope with the huge workload there has been at Colpensiones since the very beginning, given the inaccuracy of its forecasts: the company had expected to receive between 80,000 and 100,000 files (pension applications) but received almost 300,000. Moreover, the IT application implemented did not work properly. As a result, the employees’ workload and overtime hours (which have not yet been paid) were increased, and the working week was extended to include Saturdays and even Sundays, with the threat of dismissal for anyone failing to show up. In addition, 600 people were hired on fixed-term contracts through a temporary work agency to carry out the same duties as the rest of the staff, but without any job security.

In light of the situation, a group of 30 mostly young workers met in secret, in July 2013, to form a company-level trade union, Sintracolpensiones, which has managed to expand its membership thanks to the support and advice provided by the CUT. It currently has 99 members, according to Johnny Erazo, a labour law student who is part of the union’s executive committee.

The company recognised the union and has engaged in dialogue with it, changing its position with regard to compulsory overtime and the obligation to work Saturdays. The level of harassment and dismissals has diminished, but the company is not moving forward with the negotiation of the list of 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
demands presented by the union in February, which include granting unionised workers the same benefits as those enjoyed under the collective pact, as well as the levelling of pay rates within the company, given that there are employees doing the same job but with a wage difference of almost a million pesos.

The collective pact has not been reviewed as the workers covered by it have not had an opportunity to meet and discuss it, and simply accept what the employer imposes on them. “Our goal is to become a majority union within two or three years so that we can defeat the pact. But this will depend on what happens in the negotiations we are holding,” added Johnny Erazo.

Bimbo, the Mexican multinational producing bread and baked goods, came to Colombia 18 years ago. It has factories in Tenjo (Cundinamarca), Cali and Soledad (Atlántico).

The company-level union representing Bimbo workers, Sintrabimbo, was formed in 2005, by 25 of the 400 workers employed by the company at the time (it now employs 3,300). According to its president, Máximo Zamora Ruiz, the union was established in response to the company’s labour policy to cut costs: compulsory excessive working hours and unpaid overtime, hiring of new workers paid the minimum wage whilst existing employees earned more, the dismissal of workers with five or more years of service without following the dismissal procedure, and other irregularities.

Within a few months, the trade union had 90 members, but the company offered bribes and convinced half of them to leave the union. Members without the legal protection covering union representatives were dismissed. The harassment was so fierce that, for fear of being left with less than 25 members (the minimum required to operate), they joined the CGT-affiliated union representing hotel, tourism and food industry workers.

A month after forming the union, and just as it was embarking on the procedures for the negotiation of the first collective agreement, the company drew up a benefits plan for non-union members, offering them gifts, mainly household appliances, which discouraged the workers from joining the union. Six months later, whilst the negotiation of the collective agreement was still underway, the company brought together the non-unionised workers and had them sign a collective pact, granting them certain benefits, on the condition that they would not join the union.

Finally, the collective agreement was signed but the terms and conditions were the same as those in the collective pact. This was a hard blow for the union, which went on to lose 34 members, leaving it with only 19. They then sought protection from another trade union, as there had been difficulties with the CGT-affiliated one. They affiliated with the UTA (Unión Trabajadora de Alpina) and presented a list of 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
demands, which ended up at the Court of 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
following the company’s refusal to enter into negotiations. Whilst the 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 was being determined, the company withdrew the benefits granted under the pact from the 19 unionised workers and froze their wages. This situation lasted for two years, by the end of which the union was left with only seven members, who were totally discriminated against by the company and the rest of the workers.

The union subsequently filed for protection, claiming the right to equality and 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
; a court in the municipality of Tenjo ruled in the trade union’s favour. The second hearing was also favourable, and Bimbo was ordered to equalise the rights of the pact and to settle all the amounts not paid to the unionised workers. More members were attracted to the union thanks to this victory. Having reached a membership of over 25, they decided to “resuscitate” the company-level union. Sinaltrabimbo was formed in September 2011 and presented a list of 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
demands, which the company agreed to negotiate, but set the terms and conditions of the collective pact as the ceiling.

Sinaltrabimbo now has 200 members and is preparing to submit its 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
proposal. The negotiation will not be easy, given the imposition of the pact as a “ceiling”.

Collective pacts are used by companies to weaken trade unions or prevent their formation. In 2013, 204 collective pacts were filed with the Labour Ministry. An average of 190 pacts per year have been negotiated over the last decade.

Trade unions were in the process of negotiating 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
agreements at twenty per cent of the companies signing collective pacts in 2013. The prospects for trade unions in this context are very grim, as members are harassed and discriminated against. At best, they secure exactly the same benefits through 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
as those given to the workers signing the pact, with the difference that the unionised workers have to pay union dues and those benefiting from the pact do not.

Although the numbers of collective agreements signed and workers benefitting from them increased during the first three years (2010-2013) of the Santos government, 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
continues to form a negligible part of the country’s labour relations system. Only 9.3% of workers affiliated to family compensation funds are covered by some form of collective agreement.

As regards the number of companies with some kind of collective agreement (1,449), the rate is as low as 0.4%. Furthermore, only half of these collective agreements are negotiated with genuine trade unions and workers that have a degree of autonomy in these negotiations.

Trade union leader Luis Alberto Plazas Vélez came out of an assassination attempt uninjured, thanks to the timely reaction of his bodyguard.

Plazas Vélez is a teacher, a member of the Sindicato Único de Educadores de Bolívar, and has been the general secretary of CUT Bolívar for six years. He is also known for heading the drive to organise and mobilise Cartagena’s informal economy workers, grouped within UGTI Bolívar.

The incident took place on 16 May 2014 in Cartagena. One of the hit men, who carried out the attack from a motorbike, was killed in the return fire, reportedly hit in the chest by a bullet fired by the bodyguard defending the trade union leader.

José Onofre Esquivel, vice president the Bugalagrande branch of Sinaltrainal, was the target of an attack by hit men on motorbikes on 17 June 2014 in Medellin. He came out of the attack unharmed.

The bodyguard assigned to protect the trade union leader returned fire, killing one of the attackers and injuring another one, who was detained. Two others managed to flee. A bus driver who happened to be passing by was shot in the leg.

The National Executive of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria Agropecuaria (SINTRAINAGRO) has denounced the murder, on 9 May 2014, of Tomás Rodríguez Cantillo, of the workers’ and negotiating committee at the Candelaria y Arrocera palm plantation owned by Emma Perfecta Lacouture. The murder was committed amid efforts by workers belonging to SINTRAINAGRO to move forward with the negotiation of their 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
proposals.

In April 2014, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria Agropecuaria (SINTRAINAGRO) decided 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 at Agroban, in the Urabá region, after the management at the company signed a collective agreement with a minority union minority union A trade union which only represents a minority of the workers in a bargaining unit. , disregarding the prior agreement signed by the genuine labour representative.

The trade union released a communiqué denouncing the irresponsible attitude of Claudia Argotes, the legal representative of Agroban SAS, Las Chelas plantation, after she signed a collective agreement with a union named SINTRACOL, despite the agreement already in force with SINTRAINAGRO, the organisation representing the majority of the workers at the company.

According to SINTRAINAGRO, Agroban is seeking to weaken the terms of the agreement in force, violating 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
regulations and Government Decree 89 of 2014.

Jesús Adán Quintó was one of the leaders in the fight for the land rights of the black communities in the Middle and Lower Atrato River area, a member of the departmental human rights desk and human rights secretary of the Choco branch of the CGT. Despite the known threats against Jesús Adán, the National Protection Unit (UNP) had reduced the protection measures put in place for him.

The CGT had, on several occasions, requested that the body re-establish these measures, but received no response. The community and trade union leader was murdered on 9 April 2014 in the municipality of Turbo in the Urabá region of Antioquia.

In an interview given days before his death, Jesús Adán Quinto said that he felt threatened and feared for his safety, having already faced several attempts on his life. He also made serious accusations related to the drug trafficking operations in the Urabá region.

On April 16, 2014, incendiary bombs were thrown at the headquarters of SINTRAEMCALI, the public sector union in Cali, Colombia. The attack comes just days after a major court decision on April 11, which ordered Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos and Vice President Angelino Garzón to ask forgiveness for crimes committed against SINTRAEMCALI, SINTRAUNICOL, and SINTRATELEFONOS unions during the government of former president Alvaro Uribe.

In the early hours of 21 May 2014, the vehicle of SINTRAEMCALI vice president, José Reyes, was set on fire. The trade union leader, on seeing what was happening, tried to put out the fire and suffered second-degree burns to his arms and legs.

SINTRAEMCALI has been especially targeted by paramilitary groups for its organizing in the wake of a mass firing of Cali public sector workers in 2004. In the decade since, at least 15 members of SINTRAEMCALI have been forced into exile, 8 killed, and over 100 more threatened. The union was also the target of “Operation Dragon,” a government-backed assassination plot against then-SINTRAEMCALI President—and current senator—Alexander Lopez Maya and other human rights defenders in the region. The trial against several members of the Colombian armed forces is currently ongoing.

In March 2014, the Spanish multinational Prosegur once again imposed a “collective pact" by bribing and threatening the workers. Two million pesos was the amount offered on this occasion to any unionised worker agreeing to renounce the union and 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 to accept the so-called collective pact renewed by the company in December 2013.

The company was denounced by Fidel Hugo Alfonso, president of SINTRAVALORES, the union representing Prosegur workers at company level. The union leader filed a report with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, calling on it to prosecute the company’s legal representative for violating the right to organise, which is an offence under the penal code. He also filed an administrative complaint with the Labour Ministry, accusing the company of discriminatory treatment, hindering the right to organise and contravening the collective agreement.

On 2 March 2014, employees at Worldtex Caribe, a textile company with a staff of over 400 workers located in La Candelaria export processing zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. , in Mamonal, Cartagena, denounced the death threats against the presidents and three other members of SINTRATEXTIL and ASTRATEC, the two trade unions at the firm.

A pamphlet was left in one of the trade unionist’s pigeonholes at the company. The threats were issued following a peaceful demonstration by the workers, held in protest at the pay rise of only 1.94% for 2014 and company’s refusal to address the list of demands presented in March 2013.

On 10 February 2014, the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) condemned the attempt on the life of Elsa María Páez, who is an executive member of the CGT and the Unión de Trabajadores Penitenciarios del Inpec (UPT).

The incident took place at 10 pm on 9 February, when her security guards detected a high-impact grenade hidden inside a chicken on the roof of her vehicle. The explosive was found as Elsa was preparing to settle down for the night with her young child at their home in the centre of the city. Thanks to the speed and precision of the action taken by the experts from the National Protection Unit (Unidad Nacional de Protección), the grenade did not cause any damage or injuries.

The trade union leader has been threatened on a number of occasions and was issued with a death threat over a year ago.

The president and the treasurer of the National Executive of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria del Carbón (SINTRACARBON) in the municipality of Riohacha, in the department of La Guajira, received repeated threats against themselves and their families between July 2012 and January 2013. The threats were issued whilst the two leaders were on the committee representing the union in 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
process with Carbones del Cerrejón Limited. According to the union, the intimidation sought to limit SINTRACARBON’s actions and demands aimed at defending the workers’ rights and developing the region. The leaders requested protective measures but did not receive an adequate, coherent and effective response to their individual requirements.

The departmental president of the Asociación Santandereana de Servidores Públicos (ASTDEMP) in the municipality of Bucaramanga, department of Santander, has been the target of ongoing threats.
On 8 April 2013, an envelope was found at the trade union head office with a message declaring her a military target and a public enemy. They also sent her two dolls representing her two daughters. One was without an arm and the other without a leg; their faces and bodies were splattered with red paint. The threat was signed by the paramilitary group Comando Urbano de los Rastrojos. Although measures are already in place to protect the trade union leader, she has requested that they also be extended to her daughters but has not yet received a response.

Narciso Beltrán, a member of the Asociación de Trabajadores del Campo (ASOTRACAMPO), a farm workers’ organisation affiliated to the Federación Agraria Nacional (FANAL), which is a CGT affiliate, was murdered on 12 April 2013 in the municipality of Galapa, in Atlántico.

Narciso Beltrán had been forcibly displaced and his work was partly focused on the fight for land restitution. He was allegedly killed by the Anti Land Restitution Army (Ejército Anti Restitución de Tierras), an illegal armed group made up of land owners linked to drug trafficking and paramilitarism. His father is the vice president of ASOTRACAMPO.

The association’s work includes the representation of over 130 families that have been occupying a section of El Tamarindo farm since 2001 and the defence of land rights through fair restitution.

According to Amnesty International, the peasant farmers occupying El Tamarindo have been receiving repeated threats from paramilitary groups. It reports that on 9 April a peasant farmer was told: “You are going to leave this place one way or another, this land has an owner”.

Leonardo García Morera, a member of the teachers’ union Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de la Educación del Valle (SUTEV), was murdered on 13 February 2013 in the municipality of Bolívar, in Valle del Cauca.
Leonardo began teaching in the state education sector a few years ago and taught primary school children at El Naranjal Educational Institute, Benjamín Agredo headquarters, in El Catre, in the municipality of Bolívar, in Valle.
He disappeared at midday on 13 February and his body was found later that night. The teacher was doing social work with the Embera indigenous community and, shortly before his murder, had organised resources with an international organisation to continue with this work. Following his murder, one of the head teachers at the institute where he worked commented that Leonardo and other teachers had received threats, which had been reported to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

La Cabaña sugar mill refused to formalise its employment relationship with its workers by continuing to hire them through intermediaries. It also refused to recognise the branch union of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria Agropecuaria (Sintrainagro) and to discuss 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
proposal submitted by the union in December 2012. Threats were also made against workers and their families. On 3 January 2013, La Cabaña dismissed 86 workers, including the members of the union’s executive board. Workers affiliated to the union received threats and, on 28 January, trade union activist Juan Carlos Pérez Muñoz was murdered in the municipality of Corinto, in Cauca. In March 2013, some 400 sugarcane workers affiliated to Sintrainagro declared 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
at La Cabaña.

On 10 January 2014 workers of the hydroelectric Caldas-CHEC (Central Hidroeléctrica de Caldas) – members of SINTRAELECOL-CUT, an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate – conducted a demonstration demanding the right to implement their Collective Agreement. The demonstrators also denounced the abuses committed by the Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM) against the communities in Caldas.

Demonstrators were violently attacked and beaten by the Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios, using explosive devices; one of these explosives seriously injured several workers and their families. Among them, the President of CUT and SINTRAELECOL-Caldas, Arturo Oscar OROZCO, who is still in hospital in a very serious condition, suffering critical injuries to his eyes. Reports say that Arturo Orozco has lost his left eye, and that doctors are struggling to save his right eye and to reconstruct his face.

This is fourth attack on Oscar Orozco’s life, who has suffered persecution by the security and justice agencies of the Colombian state and in particular by the Attorney General’s Office. Deliberately ignoring his role as a trade union and community leader, the Attorney General’s Office has attempted to convict Oscar Orozco claiming that he has staged “self- attacks”.

Ever Luis Marín Rolong, a regional leader of the SINALTRACEBA brewery workers union was murdered on 4 January 2014 by unknown gunmen who fired at him six times as he was waiting for a bus in the town of Soledad. The next day the President of SINALTRACEBA, Rafael Maldonado Gamboa, received death threats from paramilitaries while the union was holding its General Assembly.

On 2 November 2013, the vice president of the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO), Darío Cárdenas Pachón, was arrested in Villavicencio, Meta, on charges of obstructing public highways, damaging natural resources and causing intentional damage to property.
The USO insisted that his arrest was a setup, aimed at preventing the free exercise of trade union activities, and has been combined with a leafleting campaign, slander and threats against trade union leaders and their families.

On 9 November 2013, the trade union organisation SINTRABIOFILM denounced the systematic persecution and obstruction of trade union activity and representation at BIOFILM S.A. The union reported that the company refuses to negotiate 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
demands and that trade union leaders have received threats from criminal groups.

IndustriALL Global Union condemns the attack on Óscar Arturo Orozco, president of the Caldas branch of the union central CUT and the electrical workers’ union SINTRAELECOL and calls on its affiliates to take solidarity action.

The attack took place when Óscar Orozco was driving home on the night of 13 November. The car window was hit by bullets and Orozco suffered cuts to the neck and the left hand. Immediately after the attack, Orozco reported the attack to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and requested a ballistics report on the car.

Oscar Orozco said: “this regrettable event is the latest in a series of attacks we have denounced in recent months and we hold the government responsible for our physical integrity and lives. We demand that these attacks be investigated and those responsible are quickly brought to justice”.

Orozco is a prominent social and trade union activist in the department of Caldas and has suffered four attacks in recent years, including letter bombs. On 4 August 2012, the CUT Caldas president and secretaries were victims of an attack while en route to a meeting of fisherfolk and miners in the district of Arauca. No attempt was made to examine the vehicle they were in or to investigate what happened. “One year later, the prosecutor did a U-turn and charged the victims themselves on the basis of what must certainly be false-positive test results. We call on supporters to follow this case because it seems that having escaped an attempt on their lives, the victims face the prospect of being put behind bars by the prosecutor and the Defender of the People”, said a spokesperson for the union.

In October 2013, the Escuela Nacional Sindical de Colombia denounced threats made against the President of the Zaragoza branch of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria Minera, Petroquímica, Agrocombustibles y Energética (Sintramienergética), Fredy Urrutia. The threats began at the beginning of June during 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
called by the union when talks failed regarding a salary increase and better health and transport conditions with the Operadora Minera SAS, part of the Colpatria group.

On 10 October 2013, workers at Nestlé and members of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Sistema Agroalimentario (Sinaltrainal) chained themselves together in front of the factory in Bugalagrande and began 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
calling on the multinational to implement the collective agreement and to respect the dignity of the workers and the trade union.

On Friday 27 September, Fernando Florez Viveros was murdered in his home in the Simón Bolívar area of Cali city. Viveros was President of the SINDOEPAL trade union, an affiliate of CTC Valle.

On 25 August 2013, trade union leader Hubert de Jesús Ballesteros Gómez was arrested. The union leader is an executive member of the CUT-Colombia, affiliated to the ITUC and the TUCA, and was arrested within the context of the national agricultural 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
.

On 19 August 2013, the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores de Colombia (CUT) condemned the attempt by the multinational Drummond 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
being carried out by workers, in particular those who are members of the SINTRAMIENERGETICA trade union. A trade union statement condemned the labour authorities’ “complicity” with the company. Two senior managers at the multinational called a vote to put an end to 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
, with the approval of the Ministry of Labour, without taking into account that 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
had been called by the trade unions at Drummond and that it was taking place within the framework set out by the Constitution, the labour laws and international conventions.

On the 30th of May, the Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) filed a suit against the multinational oil company Pacific Rubiales Energy. According to the union, the company has systematically violated the trade union rights of oil workers in the municipality of Puerto Gaitán. More than 3000 workers affiliated with USO were fired for organizing 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
to demand better working conditions.
Furthermore, according various testimonies, the company demands a proof that workers renounced their affiliation with USO in order to worker for oil companies based in Puerto Gaitán.

On 13 August 2013, the Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT) condemned violations by the mutual healthcare company EmdiSalud EPS-S in Tunja, following the mass dismissals of workers and trade union leaders in retaliation for the presentation of a list of demands.

In August 2013, the multinational Prosegur brought criminal charges against eight trade unionists and demanded that they pay 500,000 USD in compensation. The workers charged were Fidel Alfonso, President of Sintravalores and seven leaders of the organisation’s branch in Medellín, who have been accused of slander by two Prosegur executives following some expressions used during a protest meeting. Two of them have also been accused of causing damage to third-party property, for allegedly painting slogans on the walls.

On 26 July 2013, the Coca Cola bottling plant in Medellín dismissed 132 subcontracted workers, 18 of whom were trade unionists. The Sinaltrainal trade union condemned the dismissals, which were designed to ensure that the workers could not negotiate the list of demands and the company could continue to put pressure on their wages.

In August 2012, in Buenaventura Port, Tecsa, a subcontractor of the Sociedad Portuaria, refused to negotiate the demands presented by the port workers’ union Unión Portuaria, calling for equal rights in terms of wages and direct contracts for workers employed via intermediary companies for over five years. Tesca dismissed 117 subcontracted workers who had called for direct hire; all were African-Colombians and union members.

In March 2013, the Federación Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de las Artes Gráficas, Papeleros y Afines (Fenalgrap) denounced the anti-union harassment against the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Flexo Spring S.A.S (Sintraflexospring). Fenalgrap stated that since the setting up of the organisation, the company has been pursuing a campaign of harassment and pressure against the organised workers and attempting to stop further workers from joining the organisation.

On 3 July 2013, 16 taxi drivers who are members of the SNTT (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores del Transporte) were assaulted and arrested by police during a peaceful demonstration in Cartagena, Colombia.

In January 2013, when retail workers at Sodimac – a distributor of building materials – created a union (Sintrasodimac), the company immediately began a policy of harassment as well as attempting to impose a parallel collective agreement in a bid to pressure workers to leave the union.

In July 2013, the Risaralda company, which belongs to the same group as Incauca and Providencia, began a campaign of anti-trade harassment against over 400 sugar cane cutters, threatening them with dismissals. Making use of its dominant position, the company incited its subcontractors PROCAÑA SAS, MATECAÑA SAS and the trade union organisation SINTRAIDUBAL to oblige their workers to join this trade union and warned that if they failed to do so their contracts would not be renewed.

In June 2013, after the direct bargaining stage had been exhausted in the negotiations between the newly established trade union Sintrapulcar-Tocancipá and the American multinational Colpapel Kimberly, workers voted to go to the Court of 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
. The vote took place in four factories that the company has in the country and significant pressure was put on workers to vote for 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
, as a strategy to break the trade union.

The Metro in Medellin took a month and a half to agree to negotiate with the recently created trade union. In July 2013, of the 48 demands that SINTRAMETRO presented to them for negotiation they only agreed to negotiate two points, both related to legal rights which were not being implemented. The company inflated the cost of the demands to rule them out.

In the town of Pereira, in November 2012, six Multiservicios workers– a municipal company in liquidation – started 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
to prevent the dismissal of 200 workers in violation of their collective agreement.

At least 18 unionists where killed in Colombia and 359 received death threats in 2012.

In July 2012, Eder Tomás Cárdenas Chitiva, a union leader of SINDISPETROL, was murdered in the town of Paratebueno, Cundinamarca. He was part of a group of workers of the Spanish group Masa Acciona, who staged permanent assembly to press for the initiation of negotiations. According to union representatives, since the beginning of the permanent assembly, workers have begun to receive death threats from criminal armed groups.

The telecommunications giant, Claro, is well known for its union busting union busting Attempts by an employer to prevent the establishment of a trade union or remove an existing union, e.g. by firing union members, challenging unions in court, or by forming a yellow union. activities in Colombia. At Comcel, a branch of the conglomerate, there is no trade union. In Telmex-Colombia, also part of the Claro group, the union (SintraTelmex) has only 190 affiliated workers. Despite the fragile situation of SintraTelmex, the company has implemented a series of anti-union measures including the dismissals of union leaders.

After being ordered to reinstate workers unlawfully dismissed for creating a union, Fundación Universitaria San Martín reinstated them in junior positions and separate from each other in the campus.

There are over a million companies and 19 million workers in Colombia, but
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
is virtually a marginal activity. The negotiation of collective agreements has fallen over the last eight years. The Colombian government has done nothing to encourage free 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
, conducted in good faith. The widespread anti-union attitude of employers, whose practices run contrary to good faith and free and voluntary bargaining, continues with no legal or administrative tools to adequately or effectively promote 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
rights.

Impunity remains a very serious problem in the case of crimes against trade unionists. The Public Prosecution Service only investigates 25.5% of murders and less than 3% of cases of other forms of anti-union violence. The number of people sentenced remains so low that the level of impunity for crimes against trade unionists remains at 98%. Investigations carried out by the Prosecution Service’s sub-division up to February 2010 provided no significant results. The sub-division had 1,344 cases assigned to it but in reality is only investigating 1,150, because they could not find the physical records for 194 cases.

Between January 2002 and April 2010 the courts recorded 296 sentences, of which 207 were handed down by judges specialised in cases of anti-union violence. These cases concerned 414 victims, of which 254 are trade unionists, and 12 are trade unionists’ family members. 148 are people who were victims of anti-union violence, although they have nothing to do with the trade unions. These results show that impunity remains very high despite the increase in the number of sentences handed down. The level of impunity for the crime of forced disappearance is chilling – one sentence in 218 cases, while impunity for non-lethal violence which causes intimidation and restricts 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
is virtually 100%.

There is no legal tool to ensure compliance with the recommendations of the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
’s supervisory bodies. It is up to the goodwill of the government to take the necessary measures to prevent or overcome violations of the trade union rights conventions. Trade union organisations will again have to initiate legal proceedings to seek compliance with ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
recommendations. In the case of the Red Cross workers’ union, Sintracruzroja Colombia, which submitted a complaint to the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Committee on 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 2004, legal proceedings were taken against the government’s failure to comply. The government has been awaiting a final ruling from the Supreme Court since 31 March 2009.

The increase in protest action by non-unionised and informal sector workers seen in previous years continues. This action has involved drivers, including lorry drivers and dump truck drivers, moto-taxi drivers, footballers, the 2000 recyclers who protested in Bogota, informal vendors and traders in various Colombian cities, informal sector petrol vendors and porters in border regions near Venezuela. In Medellin and its surrounding area alone, there were 15 protests by urban bus drivers over constant extortion and the violations of their life, liberty and personal safety.

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 February at the DPA-Nestlé milk multinational (formerly Cicolac, also run by Nestlé) by about 140 workers lasted for 40 days and was in protest at the company’s refusal to reach a settlement on a list of demands presented in December 2009. 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 accompanied by a media offensive aimed at putting pressure on and discrediting the workers in the eyes of the public while denying them the right of reply.

In October the Association of Sick Drummond Employees (ASOTREDP) held a protest outside the Ministry of Social Protection to denounce the serious health problems affecting them as a result of their work as miners. Miners from the Sinifana coal mining region in south east Antioquia also held demonstrations in protest at the tragedy in Amagá in June 2010 in which 74 miners lost their lives.

Members of the mine and energy workers union SINTRAMIENERGETICA employed by the Carbones de La Jagua coalmine, owned by the Swiss multinational Glencore, began a 40 day 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 June in the town of La Jagua de Ibirico, Cesar department, which ended with the signing of a collective agreement. Several demonstrations took place in September in the towns of Segovia and Remedios, Antioquia department, culminating in a civil 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
involving the populations of both towns, to defend the workers’ ownership of the Frontino Gold Mines company. These events highlight the serious problems in the mining industry and their disastrous consequences for the environment, the local population and national interests, undermined by those of multinational capital.

Service contracts, also known in Colombia as “service provision orders” (OPS), and civil contracting make it impossible for workers hired in this way to join a union, as they are covered by a legal regime independent of the labour legislation.

Labour outsourcing outsourcing See contracting-out or subcontracting is still on the rise, largely driven by the ever-growing number of “Associated Work Cooperatives”. The “associates”, not being considered workers, do not enjoy the basic rights enshrined in the labour legislation, being covered by the legislation on cooperatives rather than on employment. Nor are they able to join unions, for a number of reasons, including the fact that they are not considered to be workers.

Although a slight increase was seen in the number of collective agreements signed during 2009, (360, as compared with 280 in 2008, according to Social Protection Ministry figures), employers continue to violate ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Convention 98. Another 221 collective pacts, used by employers to offer non-unionised workers better conditions and thus prevent unionisation, were signed over the year (the same number as in 2008).

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