5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Ecuador

The ITUC affiliates in Ecuador are the Central Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones Clasistas (CEDOC) and the Confederación Sindical de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores del Ecuador (CSE).

In practice

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Arrest of indigenous leader Agustin Wachapá21-12-2016

In December of 2016, dozens of police arrived without an arrest warrant to the headquarters of the Shuar Federation (FISCH) located in the Ecuadorian Amazon and arbitrarily beat, tortured and detained its president, Agustin Wachapá. Then, the police razed the Shuar Federation’s office—turning over furniture and carrying away computers. Wachupá is being kept in a maximum-security prison near Quito, despite a call from Amnesty International to respect his judicial rights.

Agustin Wachapá was accused of publicly calling for the mobilization and violent resistance of the Shuar communities against state security forces in San Juan Bosco. The conflict started because the indigenous community in Nankints was evicted and had their homes demolished against their will to make way for the Chinese Explorcobres S.A. (EXSA) open-cut copper mine. They tried twice to retake their land. On December 14th, the second attempt resulted in the death of a police officer and wounded seven other members of the state security forces.

After this, more than 8000 militaries took the zone and the government declared a State of Emergency and suspending basic rights such as freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, and due process under law, as well as granting the military the exceptional power to enter private residences and arbitrarily detain people without warrants or evidence. The leaders of the Shuar called upon the United Nations and other international human rights organizations to monitor the militarization of these lands.

Besides this persecution against Wachapá, other three leaders of the Shuar Jose Isidro Tendetza Antun (2014), Bosco Wisum (2009) and Freddy Taish in 2013 were violently murdered for opposing the mining industry. In some of the cases the witnesses pointed out that the perpetrators were employees of the Chinese mine. This means that these violations are part of a systematic behaviour against the organization.

Defence Ministry workers demand payment of union dues04-06-2016

In May 2016, employees affiliated to the Sindicato del Ministerio de Defensa presented a call for 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 in response to the government’s refusal to comply with the terms of the Labour Code regarding the deduction of trade union dues from all employees’ salaries.

This refusal has prevented trade union action to defend the rights of around 3,000 employees protected under the Labour Code. The Defence Ministry has totally disregarded the right 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
, as although it was eliminated in 2016 a transitional regime was offered covering public servants. The Ministry filed the applications submitted, arguing that 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
had been eliminated in the public sector.

The application in question had been presented to the former ministers, María Fernanda Espinosa and Fernando Cordero, as well as the current minister, Ricardo Patiño. The response has invariably been negative. In addition, the Labour Ministry failed to respect the timeframes established for the various stages 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
proposals procedure and did not attend the compulsory 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
meetings organised to reach an agreement. 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 on these grounds.

Barriers to collective bargaining at Aerolane30-07-2016

In July 2016, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Aerolane (SITA) denounced that workers are not covered by a collective agreement and therefore have no mechanism to collectively tackle the mass dismissals and budget cuts arising from programmes being implemented by the company, which have had a devastating impact on working conditions. The trade union has been demanding a collective agreement with the company for seven years and has been confronted not only with a total refusal but also relentless attacks.

According to a report received from the network of LATAM Airlines Group trade unions, to which Aerolane belongs (LATAM Ecuador), the company has a policy of systematic 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. , manifested through the dismissal of trade union leaders who organise workers so that they can negotiate their working conditions. Such was the case with Jimena López, one of the founding members of the first LAN Ecuador trade union, who was dismissed in 2014 and is still engaged in legal action for unfair and anti-union dismissal.

Since López was dismissed, her trade union has been striving to defend its right to organise and to bargain collectively with LAN, initiating legal proceedings and organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. international support for all the trade union organisations within the LATAM network. López had already denounced the violations of trade union and constitutional rights to the special 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
mission in 2015. 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
responded by backing her actions and offering support.

Longest-standing teachers’ union dissolved by Labour Ministry08-09-2016

In July 2016, the Education Ministry dissolved the main and oldest trade union of public sector teachers, the Unión Nacional de Educadores (UNE). The decision was taken on the pretext that the teachers’ union was not complying with its own rules, was in breach of the obligations provided for in the constitution and was engaging in prohibited activities. The union called for the administrative proceedings against it to be declared invalid, based on the lack of clarity regarding the motives for its dissolution.

The organisation’s leadership had denounced other attacks on it, such as the elimination of the right to collect union dues and the persecution of its leaders. It was also confronted with legal proceedings and its premises were raided. Four computers were seized along with institutional documents, and the leaders present were forced out of the premises.

On 8 September 2016, the trade union requested proceedings to protect its rights. Its request was refused. The union subsequently turned to international bodies such as 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
and the United Nations. UN rapporteurs responded by requesting the Ecuadorian authorities to cancel the dissolution process. Education International (IE), to which the UNE is affiliated, called on its affiliates to press Ecuador’s Education Ministry to withdraw the legal notice of dissolution. The government did not, however, respond to these calls and continued with the process.

The trade union has been tagged as a leader of opposition to the government. According to the UNE, the authorities are acting in retaliation for the complaints regarding the government’s systematic violations 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
taken to the annual International Labour Conference 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
and the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

ASTAC not recognised30-10-2016

In October 2016, the Asociación Sindical de Trabajadores Agrícolas Bananeros y Campesinos (ASTAC) denounced the violation of banana workers’ 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
. According to the ASTAC, the latest census of the banana sector identified 2,588 small banana plantations employing 15,474 workers. Each of these plantations employed fewer than 30 workers, on average, which is the minimum number required to form a union under Ecuadorian law. As a result, banana workers are unable to exercise their fundamental right to join or form a union.

ASTAC was founded in a bid to represent all the workers in the sector. The Labour Ministry of Ecuador is, however, refusing to register the union on the basis that its members do not come under a single employer.

ASTAC organised workers at CEINCONSA, FRUTSESA and VIESFRUT, which responded with attacks on the unionised employees. The general secretary of the union at FRUTSESA received threats, and at VIESFRUT the management hired gunmen to evict the union leaders from the plantation. Banana sector workers continue to face persistent violations of human, trade union and labour rights. The trade union first denounced the oppressive conditions and fundamental rights violations on banana plantations back in 2010 following meetings with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery.

Obstacles to registering civil society organisations: CUCOMITAE complaint31-12-2016

Civil society organisations, such as the Confederación Unitaria Comerciantes Minoristas y Trabajadores Autónomos del Ecuador (CUCOMITAE), denounced the excessive red tape and prerequisites hampering the registration of organisations, which amount, in practice, to a 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
.

By December 2016, the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) had not yet assigned the organisations to the respective ministries, in accordance with their areas of responsibility, leaving many associations unregistered. In the case of the CUCOMITAE, by agreement with the MIES, the organisation was to be reassigned to the Superintendency of the People’s and Solidarity Economy, but this procedure had not yet been completed by the close of this report.

The policy of the Labour Ministry is to only register recently established self-employed workers’ organisations. Older organisations are left unregistered, which limits their activities. Similar barriers are encountered in the registration of national confederations as well as provincial and local federations that do not have the statutory quorum requiring the affiliation of at least five organisations. As a result, the organisations wishing to register are left defenceless.

In accordance with Decree 16 (now Decree 739), organisations not regularised under the Single Register of Social Organisations (RUOS) lose their legal status within a year. The complications involved in registering are likely to result in the disappearance of many organisations.

Restrictions on organising in public sector11-02-2017

The public sector was a key target of major reforms affecting trade union and labour rights. The government, disregarding the workers’ voice, launched a campaign of persecution and took steps to progressively eradicate associations, taking a particularly aggressive approach during 2015 and 2016.

Although the right to organise and to 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
exist in law, exercising these rights is impracticable, given the complete ban on stoppages in all public services, without regard for 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
regulations concerning the definition of essential services essential services Services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. Can include the hospital sector, electricity and water supply services, and air traffic control. Strikes can be restricted or even prohibited in essential services.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
where the right to 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
would be restricted. Public employees staging strikes and bringing their services to a standstill face investigation and prosecution on charges of sabotage, terrorism, trespassing public buildings and threating national security.

In 2016, the ability to exercise the right 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
was suppressed. The result is a decline in union membership and trade unions, as the suppression of collective agreements undermines the very essence of these organisations, the purpose of which is to defend their members’ individual and collective rights.

Various public sector institutions are refusing to apply the check-off check-off A system where union dues and fees are automatically deducted by the employer from the workers’ paychecks and then remitted to the respective union. system for the payment of union dues and others, such as the state oil company Petroecuador, are illegally withholding these dues. The systematic violations 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
have led to the proliferation of pro-government parastatal workers’ organisations. Examples are the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT), which supports the government’s positions and neutralises the Frente Unitario de Trabajadores (FUT) and the Red de Maestros, set up to counteract the Unión Nacional de Educadores (UNE).

On 22 July 2014, Dr. Carlos...31-01-2015

On 22 July 2014, Dr. Carlos Figueroa, trade union leader and former executive secretary of the Ecuadorian medical federation Federación Médica Ecuatoriana was arrested by the police in the city of Quito whilst visiting his mother who was terminally ill with cancer. On 24 March 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had requested that precautionary measures be adopted for Carlos Figueroa, calling on the Republic of Ecuador to immediately suspend the court ruling delivered in 2013 by the National Court of Justice, which had sentenced him to six months in prison on charges of “defamation”, for having allegedly slandered the president of Ecuador on requesting the Public Prosecution Service to investigate the appropriateness of the president’s order to have military forces intervene in the National Police Hospital in Quito, during the political crisis of September 2010, given the number of people killed in the incident. The IACHR requested that the sentence be suspended pending the Commission’s ruling on the petition regarding the lack of due process in the trial of the trade union leader, as well as that of the oil union leader Fernando Villavicencio and National Assembly Member Cléver Jimenez. On 18 January 2015, Figueroa completed the prison term and was released.

On 27 May 2014, the National Court of Justice found Mery Zamora, former president of the Unión Nacional de Educadores, innocent, overturning the eight-year prison sentence she had been given for sabotage and terrorism. President Correa immediately announced that the government would examine the sentence, challenging the authority of the judiciary.

Since the end of 2014, the Ecuadorian government and the Assembly Members from its political movement have been pushing through changes to the Constitution of the Republic. The Constitutional Court classed the changes as “amendments”, which meant they could be decided on by the National Assembly, in which the ruling party has an absolute majority. Two of these amendments seek to eradicate 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 public sector (Art. 229 and 326.16), by progressively withdrawing the classification of employees as “public workers”. The implication of this move is that all such workers would be classed as public servants and their employment relationship would be governed by the Organic Law on the Public Service - LOSEP (part of administrative law), which prohibits the right to organise and 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 well as the right to 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
. These “amendments” passed the first discussion in Congress on December 2014, and only have to pass a second and final debate, to be held in November 2015, before entering into force.

Other violations:

Restrictions 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
: elimination of trade unions, legal inability to organise, government interference and control, ‘parallel’ organisations, withdrawal/denial of union dues check-off check-off A system where union dues and fees are automatically deducted by the employer from the workers’ paychecks and then remitted to the respective union. , administrative barriers to the development of organisations, and refusal to grant trade union leave.

Executive Decree 16, of June 2013, provides for the administrative dissolution of social organisations (including trade unions), without due process or the right to defence (Art. 25 and 26). It also stipulates that organisations not registering with the Social and Civil Society Organisations Unified Information System will not be able to operate in the country (sixth transitional provision), violating the principle of voluntary action and autonomous decision making within these organisations.

Limitations on the right to 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 Ecuadorian constitution recognises the right to 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
and then goes on to prohibit all public service stoppages, without distinguishing those considered to be essential. Public service stoppages, moreover, are classed as offences, punishable by one to three years in prison, under Article 346 of the Comprehensive Organic Criminal Code, without any distinction being made with regard to the services concerned (including in the event of declaring 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
).

Loss of representation, deinstitutionalisation of social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. and tripartism tripartism The principle of involvement of and interaction between three parties having equal status, namely the social partners and the government.

See social dialogue, International Labour Organization
: piecemeal negotiations held at the discretion of the state, in its capacity as the employer, have replaced worker representation on the boards of public companies, leading to greater fragmentation and political control of the public sector and excluding workers from discussions, opinions or agreements regulating labour relations, and all aspects affecting or relating to public service workers.

Changes 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
rules and its progressive restriction: since the government unilaterally revised the collective agreements in the public sector, restricting the workers’ ability to participate, prohibiting any revision or challenge to these impositions at administrative, legal or even constitutional level; to date, the curtailment of the guarantees and benefits affecting the principle of the intangibility of labour rights remains in place and workers classed as pubic servants are legally excluded from 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
.

Persecution of social and labour activists23-04-2014

Dr Carlos Figueroa, General Secretary of the Ecuadorian Medical Federation (a PSI affiliate), the Pachakutik Movement parliamentarian, Cléver Jiménez Cabrera and his advisor, Fernando Villavicencio Valencia, ex-leader of the oil workers’ trade union, were accused of libeling Ecuador’s President. The three had asked the public prosecutor to investigate the propriety of the President’s order for military intervention to ‘rescue’ him from the National Police Hospital in Quito during a political crisis in September 2010. The violent military action resulted in a number of deaths.

PSI affiliates in Ecuador have protested repeatedly against the Public Service Law, finally adopted on 6 October 2010, which drastically 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
and 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
for public service workers.

Figuerora has been sentenced to six months in prison and both Jiménez and Villavicencio to 18 months in prison. The offices and homes of both Jiménez and Villavicencio were raided on 26 December 2013. They were accused of hacking the president’s electronic mail, whereas in fact they have been investigating cases of government corruption. After an unsuccessful appeal, all three could be imprisoned any day now.

Unfair dismissals at Dole13-12-2013

In December 2013, Dole unfairly dismissed around 25 workers at its María José 1 and 2 and Banaloli 1 and 2 plantations in the province of Los Ríos. They were all members of the Comité de Empresa de Trabajadores de la Compañía Megabananas, a trade union affiliated to the Federación Nacional de Trabajadores Agroindustriales, Campesinos e Indígenas Libres del Ecuador (FENACLE).

Anti-union discrimination31-01-2013

Public services at the Social Security Institute (IESS) and in several public hospitals were privatised, resulting in lower wages and worse working conditions for workers. At the Baca Ortiz Hospital in Quito, more than 200 unionised workers were sacked when services were outsourced to private companies.

Union members in banana plantations in Guayas and Los Rios provinces were subjected to anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

by employers. In September 2012, 159 workers were abruptly dismissed simply for forming a union.

Around 80 Aerolane/LAN Ecuador workers were sacked in January 2012; 49 of them were union members, two were on the board of the recently established Sindicato de Trabajadores de Aerolane (SITA).

Tactics to stop organising and collective bargaining31-12-2011

Employers used a whole range of tactics to stop workers from attempting to organise and bargain collectively, such as not declaring their employees to the social security administration. Undeclared workers are not officially recognised as permanent employees and do not therefore have the right to organise.

Government deploys anti-union practices in public sector31-12-2011

The government maintained a hostile approach to trade union rights, organisations and their leaders in the public sector, showing contempt for their demands, rejecting all calls for social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. and negotiations to set working conditions, and making mass dismissals.

Employers block unionisation30-11-2009

Employers continue to support the creation and operations of solidarista associations. The establishment of these workers’ associations is subject to the contribution of the employer they depend on, and are used in practice as a way of preventing the formation of trade unions or to weaken 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
.

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