4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


The ITUC affiliates in Honduras are the Central General de Trabajadores (CGT), the Confederación de Trabajadores de Honduras (CTH) and the Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Honduras (CUTH).

In practice

Browse by:

Anti-union practices at Fyffes plantations15-01-2016

In January 2016, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS) notified the employer that a branch union had been formed at Sur Agrícola de Honduras SA (Suragroh), one of Fyffes’ three subsidiaries in Honduras. It also submitted a list of demands for the negotiation of a collective agreement.

Within less than 24 hours, the multinational met with the members of the executive and made them withdraw from the union. Following a second failed attempt, in April, the STAS formed another branch, on this occasion at Melon Export SA (Melexsa).

The company’s response was even more brutal. A technical advisor from the STAS reported that the company dismissed 21 workers, including the union leaders who, moreover, had permanent contracts, before they even had time to notify the employer that a union had been formed.

The trade union did not give in and a new executive committee was elected and investigations were launched into the labour rights violations underway. After gathering all the evidence, 92 workers, male and female, decided to take the company to court over the non-payment of benefits owed to them.

The STAS branch union has denounced that blacklists have been drawn up, creating fears that none of Fyffes’ three subsidiaries will hire people linked to the union.

The company also takes advantage of the temporary nature of the work to put pressure on the women workers. The working days are extremely long and the labourers receive no overtime pay or holiday entitlement. Nor do they receive seniority pay or contribute to the social security system.

There are women who have been working on the melon farms for 25 years or more and those who have reached retirement age but are still working. They know they will never receive a pension or the benefits they are due. Others have been sacked for being pregnant or after suffering an injury at work.

The health and safety conditions are also very poor. In December 2015, around 100 women suffered toxic poisoning due to a combination of herbicide and chlorine being used on an adjacent plot of land.

University trade union leader killed17-06-2015

On 17 June 2015, Héctor Orlando Martínez, president of Branch 6 of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Universidad Autónoma de Honduras (SITRAUNAH) at the Pacific Coast Regional University Centre (CURLP-UNAH) in the city of Choluteca, was killed.

The trade unionist was killed on his way home from work at the university. According to the reports, he was attacked by two individuals on a motorbike who fired at his vehicle and shot him 12 times. The incident reportedly took place after a human rights commission had begun investigating the complaints filed by Héctor Orlando Martínez.

On 19 May 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had requested that precautionary measures be taken to protect Héctor Orlando Martínez and his family in light of the threats and acts of intimidation he was being subjected to as a direct result of his activities as a SITRAUNAH representative.

The government of Honduras holds consultations31-03-2015

The government of Honduras holds consultations but ultimately makes its own decisions, without taking on board the contributions made by trade union organisations.

Between 2014 and March 2015, the judiciary continued to show a bias against workers and to collude with the executive branch. The courts ruled against the workers in cases where trade unionists had been detained without charges. They also failed to order the reinstatement of unfairly dismissed unionised employees from the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), the national telecommunications company Hondutel and the municipal councils of Danlí and Comayagua.

Other violations:

Violations of the rights of migrant children and teenagers from Honduras.
Between October 2013 and September 2014, over 18,000 unaccompanied Honduran minors were detained in the United States. In June 2014, there were over 13,000 Honduran children in U.S. detention centres. The Honduran state responded to the problem in July 2014 by declaring a humanitarian emergency, prioritising national and international cooperation to seek an adequate solution. The recently established National Directorate for Children, Adolescents and the Family (DINAF) was charged with the task of providing support and protection for the children and families in the process of being repatriated and reintegrated. Social organisations have, however, drawn attention to the weakness of the institutions and the inadequacy of the state’s response to this problem.

Hazardous working conditions of some 2,000 seafood divers in La Mosquitia.
The workers live in extreme poverty and isolation. They work under abusive conditions and with a total lack of state supervision. In addition, the healthcare facilities in the area are not equipped with a hyperbaric chamber to treat divers affected by decompression, which, combined with the total absence of rehabilitation services, results in permanent disabilities or deaths, year after year.

Precarious working conditions in the maquilas.
The year 2014 saw no improvement in the working conditions in the maquilas, where the majority of the employees are women, who perform repetitive tasks in awkward positions for 12 hours a day. They do not, moreover, have access to adequate health care or treatment for the ailments developed as a result of their work.

Forced disappearance of university trade union leader08-04-2015

Donatilo Jiménez Euceda, former president of branch three of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras (SITRAUNAH) disappeared on 8 April 2015 whilst working at the CURLA University (Centro Universitario Regional Litoral Atlántico) in La Ceiba. The trade unionist was in charge of organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. the coming union elections to be held by SITRAUNAH.

Anti-union dismissals at Petralex31-03-2015

Petralex is a garment factory located in the Búfalo 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. on the outskirts of the industrial park in San Pedro Sula. On 2 March 2015, the company launched an offensive against the recently elected trade union representatives, offering them a sum of money up to three times higher than the severance pay established by law, in exchange for their resignations.

Five representatives of the local union local union A local branch of a higher-level trade union such as a national union. , Sitrapetralex, rejected the company’s offer and were instantly dismissed. One of them accepted the offer when the company threatened to dismiss his sister. Sitrapetralex and Petralex failed to reach an agreement at a meeting called by the labour authority on 24 March.

The company had also dismissed trade union representatives in June, July and August 2007, and January 2008. At least 180 trade union members were dismissed between the year 2007 and 2008.

Teachers suspended for attending a meeting03-11-2014

The Education Secretary suspended five teachers, for two months, in the department of Cortés, for abandoning their classrooms to attend an informative meeting called on 4 July 2014 by the Honduran teachers’ federation Federación de Organizaciones Magisteriales de Honduras (FOMH).

The teachers suspended are José Carballo, director of the Instituto José Trinidad Reyes, José Alas, director of the Instituto Técnico en Administración de Empresas (INTAE), Wilson Mejía, director of the Instituto Unión y Esfuerzo, Reinaldo Inestroza of the Escuela Leopoldo Aguilar, and the director of the Centro Básico Eusebio Fiallos.

Collective agreements frozen by decree30-06-2014

In June 2014, the ITUC was notified that the collective agreements of SITRAINCHSA, SITRAIHNFA, SITRAEPSOTRAVI and SITRAHONDUCOR had been frozen by decree.

Persecution of trade union organisations30-06-2014

In June 2014, the ITUC requested 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
Office to urgently engage with the Honduran government over the intensification of the persecution of trade union organisations.

The ITUC had been alerted to the following measures taken by the Honduran government:

- Intervention in several trade union organisations, such as the Sindicato Municipal de San Pedro Sula, SIDEYTMP, SITRADEI, SITRAUNAH, SIEHPE, PRICMA, SINPRODO and COLPROSUMA.

- The special measures protecting trade union representatives (fuero sindical) were withdrawn from several trade union leaders, including Araceli Granados Sosa, Marco Antonio Saravia and Jorge Topilzhin Aguilar.

Harassment of trade unionists at DEI25-09-2014

In June 2014, the trade union at the Executive Directorate of Revenue Collections, Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Dirección Ejecutiva de Ingresos (SITRADEI), which has 1,300 members nationwide, denounced that the management is refusing to allow union members time off to attend medical appointments and has reprimanded and suspended employees for holding two-hour information meetings. In addition, the legal proceedings disqualifying the union’s executive members are still underway.

Jorge Chavarría, the SITRADEI human rights secretary, stated that the acts of harassment are rooted in the union’s opposition to the creation of the Commission for the Promotion of Public-Private Partnerships, which it sees as a possible move towards privatising the institution.

Eradication of trade union at IHNFA25-09-2014

On September 2014, employees of the Honduran Institute for Children and Families (IHNFA) denounced the institution’s closure and its replacement by the National Directorate of Children and Families (DINAF).

According to the Sindicato de Trabajadores del IHNFA (SITRAIHFA), the main aim of the government measure was to eradicate the union, as 1,100 employees were dismissed; 70% of them were the main earner in the family with between three and five children.

Mass dismissals at Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana18-03-2014

On 14 March 2014, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Empresa Nacional Portuaria (SITRAENP) reported that, against the background of the privatisation of port operations in Honduras, the multinational port management company ICTSI and its subsidiary in Honduras Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana (OPC) began a process of mass dismissals, reportedly affecting some 80 workers, all members or former leaders of the SITRAENP.

The company claims that the dismissals were made in accordance with Honduran law, supposedly because the workers had reached the end of their 60-day trial period.

Father of threatened dockers’ leader murdered29-01-2014

On 28 January 2014, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) announced that the father of Victor Crespo – the Honduran trade union leader threatened with death for his work in Puerto Cortés – died following an attack on him and other family members by an armed assailant who ran them down in a stolen car.

Following a murder attempt in September 2013 Victor Crespo was evacuated to a third country to allow him to continue his work as president of the ITF-affiliated Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM). It appears that the same forces that wanted him dead then have now targeted his father, Victor Manuel Crespo Puerto, who was declared brain-dead following the attack. His life support was switched off this afternoon.

Death threats have also begun again against Crespo’s colleagues in the SGTM leadership. The ITF and SGTM believe these are connected to the union’s lawful request for 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
agreement (CBA) at the port and the recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. that benefits have not been paid, despite the law requiring them. The port operating concession has recently been taken over by ICTSI, which has hired a single stevedoring company. When the SGTM presented legal cases to press for its members’ rights the death threats immediately resumed.

Union busting at National Agrarian Institute06-11-2013

In a report dated 30 October 2013, the Central Executive Board of the Sindicato de Trabajadores del Instituto Nacional Agrario (SITRAINA) denounced the strategy being deployed by the management to “divide the peasant movement and eradicate the trade union”.

The trade union organisation reiterated its denunciation of the delaying tactics being used by the management to prevent the negotiation of the new collective agreement, together with its illegal withholding of trade union dues and its refusal to grant paid trade union leave.

It also underlined that the INA is several months in arrears with the contributions payable to the National Institute of Public Employee Retirement Benefits and Pensions (INJUPEMP) and the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS), which is causing great insecurity and uncertainty among its employees and their families.

Serious dispute at cardboard company06-11-2013

When the workers formed a trade union one year ago in response to the abuses to which they were subjected, including non-payment of the minimum wage, the company made their life a misery. It transferred their leaders to very hot workplaces, exposed to the sun and without access to water; forced them to unload containers even though this work was not stipulated in their employment contracts; and locked them out if they arrived one minute after their scheduled starting time of 7am, meaning that they lost a day’s pay and a weekly bonus.

On 15 August this year, in protest at the company’s unfair treatment, all the workers decided to report for work at 7.15am

The company closed the gates and, in the following days, sacked about 70 workers without paying the benefits due to them. The company suspended the members of the union’s executive committee on full pay while it applies to the labour courts for authorisation to dismiss them.

In response to the company’s non-payment of the minimum wage, the union has lodged a complaint with the labour courts and asked them to impose a pay rise to cover the last two years.

IndustriALL Global Union has written to the government of Honduras, through the Ministry of Labour, demanding that it tries again to promote negotiations between the two parties with a view to resolving the dispute.

PepsiCo’s intransigence in collective bargaining 30-04-2013

In April 2013, after almost 30 months of negotiations on a new Collective Agreement between the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Bebida y Similares (STIBYS) and the Embotelladora La Reyna SA (CABCorp-PepsiCo), the multinational categorically refused to negotiate on the main clauses of the agreement.

Union busting actions by Chiquita supplier15-08-2012

In order to protect their rights, workers at the Chiquita banana supplier, Tres Hermanas, formed a union, SITRAINBA, which was officially recognised by the Honduran Ministry of Labour on 15 August 2012. But instead of recognising and bargaining with SITRAINBA as required by Honduras’ labour law, Tres Hermanas’ management launched a campaign of anti-union harassment, which included firing four women who were prominent union activists.

Interference in union rules19-08-2013

The Ministry of Education has directly interfered in union rules by demanding that union leaders not seek election after two mandates.

Violence against workers19-08-2013

In the Bajo Aguán Valley, 57 rural workers have been murdered since 2009 for opposing forced evictions by large landowners who want to increase the cultivation of African palm trees. Any popular uprising is brutally repressed amid impunity and a growing criminalisation of protest and social struggle.

Collective agreements are not respected19-08-2013

A collective agreement signed between garment factory Pinehurst Manufacturing and the union SITRAPINEHURST stipulating the reintegration of unfairly dismissed workers were not only breached by the company, but several union members were dismissed soon after it was signed.

Casa Comercial Mathews, a Caterpillar subsidiary, dismissed 100 members of the SITRACCMA union in a clear breach of the collective agreement. The dismissed workers refused to accept an order to be transferred to a different branch of the same company. The clear objective of the changes was to destabilise the union.

Threats and harassment of union members19-08-2013

Soon after the Canadian company Gildan Activewear bought the garment factory Star in El Progreso city, union members were reportedly harassed and threatened by management personnel. Non-unionised workers were encouraged to spread rumours about an imminent closure due to the presence of the trade union.

Union leaders in the education sector have also received threats by telephone and have been followed by cars without licence plates.

No free time accorded to trade union leaders19-08-2013

In 2013, the Ministry of Education forced trade union leaders in the education sector (COLPROSHUMAH, COPRUMH, PRICPHMA, COLPEDAGOGOSH) back to work and denied them their right to free time for trade union activities.

Violations of the right to strike31-12-2011

Violations of 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
reached their highest expression in the education sector, which was threatened with the dissolution of its trade union organisations. This threat was accompanied by the mandate given to the police to violently repress strikes, thus crushing the right to protest and placing the teachers’ physical integrity at risk.

New law on temporary employment by the hour31-12-2011

The government enacted the law on employment by the hour, which deregulates the labour market and virtually annuls the Labour Code. It offers further proof of the business world’s control over the state. 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
remained at a very low level. The number of unions in the private sector is lower than that in the public sector.

Discrimination and poor application of labour laws31-12-2010

The law prohibits discrimination on grounds of gender, disability or ethnic origin. However, women are concentrated in low skilled, low paid jobs and do not receive equal pay for work of equal value to that of their male colleagues. This constitutes a real and serious barrier to the unionisation of women. Indigenous peoples face discrimination in access to employment. Child labour is widespread, especially in agriculture, mining, workshops and domestic labour.

Inspections to ensure compliance with the labour laws, including those on child labour, are rare.

The labour legislation also applies to export processing zones, but it is nonetheless difficult to organise unions in them.

Companies shirk their responsibilities31-12-2010

The procedures to secure the reinstatement of an unfairly dismissed worker are lengthy, slow and costly. Even when courts order that dismissed workers should be reinstated, employers often ignore the decision and refuse to take them back. Reports indicate that employers use a wide range of tactics to destroy the unions, some legal (such as the filing of appeals for the dissolution of unions by the courts), others illegal (such as reprisals and threats against trade union leaders and members). The Department of Labour takes no action to protect workers’ rights, arguing that it takes a non-interventionist approach to companies’ internal affairs.

Collective bargaining30-11-2009

One method used by employers to undermine the free exercise 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
rights is the creation of a parallel association that responds to the management’s interests and which they authorise to negotiate a collective agreement that suits them. This allows them to circumvent any genuine workers’ demands and to neutralise any trade union action.

Complicity of the Labour Ministry, corruption and lack of resources 30-11-2008

The Labour Ministry does nothing to ensure that employers respect 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
, taking a non-interventionist approach.

Corruption is common amongst labour inspectors, some of whom go as far as selling lists of trade union members to company managers. This, compounded by the government’s failure to provide inspector’s with adequate resources, goes some way towards explaining the state’s ineffectiveness in protecting labour rights.

Union-busting strategies30-11-2008

Despite the legal recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of trade union immunity protecting union representatives against unfair dismissal, the main strategy still being employed by companies to destroy unions is to fire all their leaders, often at the very moment the union is founded, to prevent its consolidation and growth. As the reinstatement procedure is very slow, those affected ultimately have to find new jobs in other companies in order to survive financially. Even in cases where they are reinstated, the conditions for forming a union are no longer there, as the staff has changed and so the whole organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. process has to be started again, more or less from scratch.

Companies also use other ways of blocking trade union organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. at all costs, such as filing appeals for the dissolution of the union. Where a union does exist in a company, the management deploys relentless union-busting tactics, making arbitrary demands and threats, taking reprisals and ill-treating union members.

Trade union rights not protected30-11-2009

In practice, workers have no adequate legal protection against 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

. They are harassed and even sacked for engaging in union activities. Workers trying to form unions in the export processing zones are sacked and blacklisted, as well as being intimidated, separated from their colleagues, mentally harassed and, in some instances, physically assaulted. Judicial processes are long and when the rulings do support the reinstatement of workers, they are generally ignored by companies without any adequate follow-up by the state.

Fear of reprisals30-06-2009

Since the coup d’état, all union activities have been restricted by the fear of being attacked at any events or meetings that may be held. All trade union leaders were under threat.

© ITUC-CSI-IGB 2013 | www.ituc-csi.org | Contact Design by Pixeleyes.be - maps: jVectorMap