4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Paraguay

The ITUC affiliates in Paraguay are the Central Nacional de Trabajadores (CNT) and the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores Auténtica (CUT-A).

In practice

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Drivers unfairly dismissed and extreme measures19-08-2015

On 19 August 2015, the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) sent a letter to President Cartes condemning the illegal actions of “La Limpeña” bus company, owned by Member of Parliament Celso Maldonado.
On 22 June 2015, the drivers formed a trade union to defend their rights in light of the exploitation and informal work at the company. The day after informing the company that a union had been formed, the management unfairly dismissed 51 drivers, members of the recently established trade union, and requested that the Labour and Social Security Ministry revoke its registration. The Ministry accepted the request not to recognise the union, authorising the employer to dismiss the trade unionists.
A few days later, several of the dismissed drivers crucified themselves in front of the Labour Ministry. Some sewed their lips together 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
to demand that their labour demands be addressed. Despite these extreme measures, they were not received by the authorities.

Collective bargaining blocked10-12-2015

In Paraguay, 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
with independent trade unions has been blocked since the government led by Horacio Cartes came to power, according to the CESITP. The few negotiations held are with trade unions close to the employers or the government.
Although the labour legislation in Paraguay provides for 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
, in practice, the national government creates yellow unions or infiltrates organisations and bribes them with positions or concessions to thwart free negotiations and to reign in the little that is negotiated with the unions.

Virtually no collective agreements were negotiated in 2015. The President of the Republic himself, Horacio Cartes, refuses to have unions in his company and repeatedly says in his speeches that “trade unions are a major obstacle to the country’s development”.
The ban on negotiations in the public sector remains in place. The Public Service Ministry refuses, as an institutional policy, to recognise collective agreements.
President Horacio Cartes demonstrated his anti-union attitude throughout 2015, and demanded that the collective agreements at the national electricity company ANDE be abolished.

Collection of trade union dues31-12-2015

According to the CESITP, the strategy most commonly used by the Paraguayan government to interfere with and hamper trade union freedoms is to stop the collection of union dues, to weaken organisations and hinder their capacity to act.

In December 2015, the deduction of union dues for SITRAMIS was stopped, creating countless problems in terms of credit and other payments.

Government does not consult with independent trade unions and confederations31-12-2015
Anti-union persecution of CESITP leaders and arbitrary justice10-01-2016

Since 1997, the president and the general secretary of the CESITP, Reinaldo Barreto Medina and Florencio Florentin, have been the victims of unrelenting anti-union persecution in the form of arbitrary justice. The trade union leaders were sentenced to imprisonment in 2007. In 2016, despite having served their sentences and the case being expunged by order of the court, they continue to be on probation. Nineteen years following their detention, the trade union leaders are still being subjected to arbitrary justice, forced to do community work, to continually sign the book at the court, and are forbidden from changing their domicile or leaving the country. The case was 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
(2086 and 12821).

Independent trade union leaders continue to face persecution:
In 2015, the government removed Oscar Rivas, organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. secretary of the CESITP, from his post, despite a court order to the contrary.
Valentín Bogarín, a trade union leader from Villeta, was arrested and charged during the general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 21 and 22 December 2015.
Hugo Caballero, president of public servants’ trade union at the Chamber of Senators and deputy general secretary of the CESITP, was indicted by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, along with 19 other trade union leaders.

Other violations05-04-2015

In January 2014, the sugar company Iturbe was denounced for its constant violations of workers’ rights, such as the non-payment of wages, the persecution of unionised workers and discrimination against security guards, who were forced to perform tasks beyond their remit. The Labour Ministry did nothing to address the situation, allowing the workers’ rights to be violated for years. In March 2015, the national government decided to settle the millions in debt owed to the workers.

Between 2014 and March 2015, no improvement was seen in the appalling situation of indigenous workers employed in slave or semi-slave like conditions (debt servitude) and as forced labour. The General Labour Directorate and its labour inspection labour inspection An authority responsible for ensuring compliance with labour laws and legal provisions relating to protection of workers through the inspection of workplaces. agency are allowing this intolerable situation to persist, claiming they neither have the funds nor the staff needed to tackle it.

On 26 March 2014, civil society and trade union organisations, the Federación Nacional Campesina (FNC), Coordinadora Democrática and Plenaria de Centrales Sindicales, held a general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to protest against policies aimed at privatising education and health, which will generate mass layoffs and serious labour rights violations, as well as structural changes to the agricultural export model, affecting the poorest farmers. The government continued with its policy of holding talks but not negotiating the demands presented by the organisations. Finally, the government docked the wages of unionised workers who took part in the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

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

Anti-union measures at DINAC20-08-2015

In June 2015 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
organised by the National Civil Aviation Authority’s (Dirección Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil - DINAC) Trade Union Organisation led to retaliatory measures by the Paraguayan government and the airport authorities.

The president of DINAC, Luis Aguirre, dismissed three of the trade union leaders, who have protected status because of their trade union role, and ordered the transfer of over 20 civil servants for taking part in the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

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

Furthermore, one of the trade union leaders, Justo Alfonso, was charged with “obstructing air traffic” and another ten workers were charged with “disturbing public peace”.

Finally, a labour judge declared 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
illegal, violating due process and authorising the presentation of proof beyond what was initially required. The ruling was riddled with irregularities, which led the workers’ defence team to request that it be declared null and void.

Anti-union persecution at Citibank09-07-2015

In July 2015, the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) denounced the abuses perpetrated by Citibank against Oscar Ricardo Paredes Dürrling, an ex-employee of Citibank N.A. in Paraguay and former Executive Committee member of the Citibank employees’ union Sindicato de Empleados del Citibank Paraguay.

According to the TUCA, Citibank did everything in its power, over a number of years, to force Paredes Dürrling to resign, deploying a range of illegal and unconstitutional strategies. As a result, the trade unionist is now receiving no pay and no retirement pension, after 34 years of service, and is currently fighting a legal battle to assert his rights through the labour courts.

During 2013 and 201428-02-2015

During 2013 and 2014, the Labour Ministry refused to register at least 13 trade union organisations and federations in Paraguay. In March 2015, the situation remained unchanged. The organisations affected are:
Organización de Trabajadores de Educadores del Paraguay Auténtica (OTEP-AUTENTICO)
Sindicato de Profesionales y Técnicos de la Dirección Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil (SIPROTEC)
Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Administración Nacional de Electricidad (SITRANDE)
Federación de Trabajadores Bancarios y Afines del Paraguay (FETRABAN)
Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Construcción Civil e Hidroeléctrica del Alto Paraná (STICCAP)
Sindicato de Funcionarios Graduados Universitarios de la Contraloría General de la República (SINGRUCOG)
Sindicato de Arte y Cultura del Paraguay
Sindicato de Funcionarios de Seguridad de la Entidad Binacional YASYRETA (SIFUSEBY)
Sindicato de Funcionarios y Empleados del Fondo Ganadero (SINTRAFOG)
Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa (SITRAPREN)
Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Azucarera Iturbe (SITRAAISA)
Sindicato Auténtico de Trabajadores Municipales (SINATRAM)
Sindicato Auténtico de Seguridad y Vigilancia de la Administración Nacional de Navegación y Puertos (SINASEVIG-ANNP)

On 8 July 2014, teachers’ trade unions held a day of peaceful protest against the campaign of anti-union persecution being waged by the government of President Horacio Cartes. The trade unionists were protesting against the elimination of trade union leave, which obstructs trade union work, the refusal to improve teachers’ pensions, the violence used to suppress social protest, the pay deductions affecting those who took part in the general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
of 26 March 2014, and to press for the urgent need for greater investment in education.

Workers have to appeal to the courts individually as collective legal action is not allowed. The courts are independent in theory, but appointments are linked to the dominant political parties. Justice is slow, costly and unpredictable.

On 13 August 2014, three days of protest, led by trade unions, campesino organisations, land rights defenders and political parties, were held in opposition to the Public-Private Partnership Act, which foresees the privatisation of health, education and public services, as well as to condemn the violence used by the state and the criminalisation of social protest. The protestors were also calling for agrarian reform, to resolve the serious problem of the concentration of land in the hands of a few. Further protests were held in November 2014 and February 2015.

Anti-union discrimination at Banco Regional18-03-2015

On 5 March 2015, the Banco Regional issued a termination notice unfairly dismissing Sonia Espínola Báez, leader of the Federación de Trabajadores Bancarios y Afines del Paraguay (FETRABAN), just as she was taking on the position of trade representative at the bank.

The bank had been duly notified of the employee’s trade union post and the role she would carry out. Far from being an isolated incident, this unfair dismissal is part of a policy of anti-union persecution and intimidation against employees at the Banco Regional, manifested, in concrete terms, by the blatant violation of labour rights and the harassment and dismissal of unionised workers.

Repression of striking dockworkers10-03-2015

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
action staged by the Liga de Obreros Marítimos del Paraguay (LOMP) in Asuncion on 12 November 2014, during which dockworkers blocked the Paraguay River at the level of Caacupemí port in Zeballos Cué, was harshly suppressed by the Naval Prefecture.

As dockworkers protested by gathering in small boats and blocking the departure of a ship, the Prefecture’s patrol boats and helicopters intimidated the demonstrators, creating large waves to destabilise their boats, causing the vessels to crash against the moored ship.

The Prefecture detained 12 of the workers and handed them over to the Office of the Public Prosecutor, where they were charged with offences carrying prison terms of up to six years, based on Article 214 of the Penal Code, on grounds that the trade union action allegedly endangered the aquatic environment.

The LOMP had been trying to establish tripartite negotiations for a year, to discuss the reactivation of the port of Asuncion, in light of the government’s unilateral decision to close it, the reinstatement of the dockworkers dismissed at the port of San Francisco, and the negotiation of a collective agreement, which is being blocked by the authorities and maritime companies of Paraguay.

Various dates were set for the launch of a 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. to settle the dispute, but the unions were the only party to turn up for the negotiations.

Acepar violates collective agreement16-10-2014

Between 22 May and 3 August 2014, Hugo Gonzales Chirico, union leader at steel company Acepar, 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
in protest against a dispute over 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 that started in 2001.

Between April and November 2010, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de Acepar (SITRAC) went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in protest at the company’s failure to comply with the collective agreement in force, failure to respect workers’ human rights and its dismissal of 325 workers, which exacerbated the dispute.

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of SITRAC in July 2009, recognizing the validity of the collective agreement in force. However, the company’s management did not comply with the agreement.

Repression against education unionists04-09-2014

The International Trade Union Confederation has condemned the brutal repression suffered by trade union leaders from the education sector. On 28 August, education workers were holding a peaceful demonstration calling for better pay and the allocation of 7% of GDP to education under the nation’s general expenditure budget.

Several trade union leaders were injured by police during the demonstration, including Silvio Piris, president of the Federación de Educadores del Paraguay (FEP), Santiago Ortiz, general secretary of the Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay (SPP) and Juan Gabriel Espínola, general secretary of the OTEP-Auténtica.

Intervention in collective agreements19-08-2013

More than 90 per cent of collective agreements in the public sector are not recognised due to arbitrary interference by the Secretary for the Civil Service (Secretaria de la Función Publica).

Anti-union discrimination and refusal to bargain in good faith19-08-2013

Granja Maehara S.A. dismissed workers for creating a union. Subsequently, the unionists were arrested by police for protesting in front of the company’s facilities.

The meat company Industria Paraguaya Frigorífica S.A. (IPFSA) dismissed union leaders and members and has refused to negotiate a collective agreement.

The security company Prosegur dismissed 325 workers after the creation of a union and refused to bargain with the union.

The company Grupo La Victoria dismissed workers and union leaders after the creation of a union.

The Banco Regional SAECA refused to sign a collective agreement with the union.

Obstacles to the right to strike in practice19-08-2013
Acts of interference in strike action19-08-2013

The wire company Alambra SA hired staff to replace workers on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in the city of Capiatá, near the capital Asunción. Labour inspectors have confirmed that substitutes were used by the company but took no further action.

Negotiating difficulties at Esso Standard Paraguay13-09-2011

On 13 September 2011, workers at Esso Standard Paraguay formed a union with a view to signing a collective agreement establishing a pay review, given that wages have not been adjusted since 2007. The group was acquired by Bridas Corp in April 2011 and the new owners have blocked the negotiating process. The matter remains unresolved.

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