5 – No guarantee 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

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Murder of COPINH founder Berta Cáceres03-03-2016

On 3 March 2016, Berta Cáceres, founder of COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras) and winner of the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for her defence of the environment, was murdered by armed men at her home in La Esperanza, department of Intibucá, in the west of Honduras. The crime took place in spite of the precautionary measures ordered to protect her by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The international community pressed the government to investigate the case. According to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, seven suspects were detained. Two of them are connected to Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA), the Honduran company building the Agua Zarca dam, which had met with strong opposition from Berta Cáceres and the COPINH. The environment defender headed a successful campaign against the project, which had been launched without adequate consultation of the local indigenous communities.

Sergio Ramón Rodríguez, one of the men arrested, was working as an engineer on the Agua Zarca project. Douglas Geovanny Bustillo, a retired military officer and former head of security for DESA, was also arrested. Other detainees included Mariano Díaz Chávez and Edison Atilio Duarte Mesa, a serving member of the armed forces and a former military officer.

SITRAINA denounces labour and trade union rights violations23-05-2016

Between 2014 and 2016, the Honduran government cut the budget of the National Agrarian Institute, the INA, seriously affecting the workers’ union SITRAINA. The cuts have led to the non-payment of annual leave (2013-2016) and delays in the payment of wages. In addition, in June 2016, the Institute sought to cut its staff by 50 per cent, forcing those made redundant to accept reduced and deferred payments.

Those agreeing to a five-year deferral of their payments received a guarantee that their redundancy would be paid in full whilst those demanding compliance with the terms of the collective agreement were paid only 70 per cent of the total. Workers are being pressured to accept reduced and deferred payments.

The trade union filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission, CONADEH, and the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, accusing the INA of committing human rights violations and coercing employees to relinquish, alter and reduce their labour rights. It also accused the institute of discriminatory practices, abusing its authority, and non-compliance with its obligations vis-à-vis public servants.

Persecution of trade union at Finca Tropical following signing of collective agreement01-06-2016

In June 2016, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS) denounced that a year after having signed a collective agreement with Finca Tropical, the company had not respected the commitments undertaken and had launched an offensive against the workers affiliated to the trade union organisation. The union’s executive and bargaining committee had been dismissed and the remaining members had decided to keep a low profile to avoid losing their jobs.

In February 2016, Finca Tropical, which supplies the multinational Chiquita Brands, had already been ordered by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to pay a 25,000-lempira fine (US$1,111) imposed by the Department of Labour. Eighty per cent of the fine corresponded to its failure to recognise the STAS and the rest to its non payment of overtime.

For the workers, the company signed the collective agreement to be able to obtain the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal. The seal was withdrawn from the company following the trade union’s reports of labour rights violations. The STAS applied to the Department of Labour for mediation mediation A process halfway between conciliation and arbitration, in mediation a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement to an industrial dispute by suggesting possible, non-binding solutions.

See arbitration, conciliation
to seek an explanation from the company as to why it had not fulfilled the terms of the collective agreement.

Community leader and environmental defender murdered06-07-2016

On 6 July 2016, Lesbia Yaneth Urquía Urquía, a community leader and member of the COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras) was abducted and murdered by unknown assailants. Her body was found near the municipal dump in Marcala.

Urquía, like the COPINH leader Berta Cáceres, murdered earlier in the year, was opposed to the concession and privatisation of the rivers in La Paz department and had been fighting against the ever-growing number of hydroelectric projects in Honduras. Urquía was directly involved in the fight against the construction of the “Aurora I” hydroelectric dam, a project headed by a company owned by the leader of the Partido Nacional and vice president of the Congress, Gladys Aurora López, and her husband.

COPINH has accused the Honduran government, the president of the Partido Nacional and her husband of being responsible for the murder. Police sources, however, claim that the crime may be linked to a family dispute or an extortion attempt, a hypothesis rejected by Urquía’s colleagues.

The United Nations and various international organisations have condemned the murder and have urged the Honduran authorities to fully investigate the crime and to bring those who ordered and perpetrated it to justice.

Lenca indigenous community member assaulted for opposing hydropower project 15-07-2016

On 15 July 2016, Martín Gómez from the Lenca indigenous community was attacked with stones and threatened by a supporter of the ruling Partido Nacional (PN) in Azacualpa, in the department of La Paz, for opposing the construction of Los Encinos hydroelectric dam.

Gómez, a member of the Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz (MILPAH), managed to escape from his aggressors, one of whom was sentenced to eight months in jail. On his release, he was served a restraining order, prohibiting him from approaching Gómez. MILPAH, which filed a demand for 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. of its ancestral lands in 2010, is opposing Los Encinos dam, owned by investment company Inversiones Encinos S.A., as it poses a threat to the Lenca people’s land and water resources.

Death threats targeting trade union leader at public electricity company25-10-2016

In October 2016, Miguel Lόpez, leader of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Empresa Nacional de Energía Eléctrica (STENEE), who has been receiving death threats, reported that despite taking all manner of precautions, a black motorbike had followed him on two occasions during that week, and had also followed his wife. López lives and works in Tocoa, Colόn, where several MUCA leaders have been killed.

Two peasant movement leaders killed21-11-2016

The peasant movement Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán (MUCA), affiliated to the Confederación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Honduras (CUTH), is one of the members of the network formed in 2014 to tackle impunity and to document and combat the growing violence and threats against trade union activists.

On 18 October 2016, the movement’s president, José Ángel Flores, and a MUCA activist, Silmer Dionisio George, were shot dead by four unknown assailants on leaving a meeting they had been attending in the department of Colón, in the north of Honduras. Flores had been granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in May 2014, and both men had been assigned police protection.

These murders are part of a pattern of violence against human rights defenders in Honduras and are rooted in the agrarian dispute in the Aguán Valley. Flores had left his family a letter with the names of his murderers. Thanks to this information, it was revealed that the leader of the peasant movement and his colleague were murdered by a criminal cell run by paramilitaries and allegedly headed by fugitive Celio Rodríguez, former president of La Confianza settlement.

On 21 November 2016, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, through the Violent Murders Unit of Bajo Aguán (UMVIBA), filed charges against Osvin Nahún Caballero Santamaría and Wilmer Giovanni Fuentes as suspected perpetrators of the crime. Various human rights groups, NGOs and the international community have urged the authorities to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

Unfair dismissals and coercion of trade unionists at National Agricultural University01-12-2016

In December 2016, 28 lecturers were unfairly dismissed at the National Agricultural University (UNA) in the city of Catacamas, in the department of Olancho, in the east of Honduras. In addition to these dismissals, teachers taking positions against the administration of rector Marlon Escoto faced criminal proceedings.

The rector of the National Agricultural University is also the Education Minister. Employees have denounced that the rector is in breach of the University’s statutes as, to be eligible for election, he should have taught there within the last three years, which he has not done. Moreover, a rector can only be re-elected once, and he had already served two terms. The teachers who were dismissed had exposed these irregularities and it is thought that they were sacked in retaliation for these criticisms.

A group of teachers from the UNA has filed reports to the human rights NGO COFADEH, documenting the acts of intimidation and violations of trade union protection and labour rights. The report denounces, for example, unfair dismissals, compulsory unpaid overtime at night or during weekends, and pressure on trade unionists to withdraw from their organisation.

Parallel trade unions, discriminatory treatment and antiunion dismissals at Azucarera del Norte S.A. (AZUNOSA)01-12-2016

In June 2016, the sugar producing company Azucarera del Norte S.A. (AZUNOSA), a subsidiary of the British multinational SABMiller, launched a campaign of discrimination, through its subcontractors, SURCO, ARAME and SODEMEM, against members of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS).

In 2016, the company withdrew benefits from STAS members, such as bonuses and holidays, whilst leaving them in place for the workers belonging to a parallel union serving the company’s interests. Although SURCO and ARAME both signed collective agreements, neither of them have complied with the terms set out in them. The workers have reported that the companies deploy the same discriminatory strategy when providing protective gear.

On 30 November 2016, SURCO unfairly dismissed several members and leaders of the STAS, including Jorge Luis Alas, secretary of agricultural and campesino affairs on the Central Executive Board of the STAS, despite him being legally protected against dismissal as a trade union leader. According to the workers, the dismissals were made in retaliation for their membership of the union.

The STAS has been trying to visit the company with an inspector for the last three years to look into the violations and systematic anti-union practices, but has been categorically denied access.

Trade union rights violations by multinational Fyffes16-02-2017

The Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS) denounced the persistence, throughout 2016, of antiunion dismissals, blacklisting and death threats at the hands of the multinational Fyffes. A new case was registered on 16 February 2017, when unionised security guards were dismissed from its plantations.

In addition, the branch leaders of the union were attacked and threatened by members of the company’s private security force, in an attempt to make them leave the union. Its leaders, Nelson Núñez and Patricia Riera, received anonymous death threats. Several organisations, including Britain’s General Union, GMB, have been pressing the multinational to improve working conditions at the plantations and to put an end to the systematic persecution of trade unionists.

Peasant farmers systematically persecuted by agribusiness corporation Dinant10-03-2017

Peasant farmers in Valle del Bajo Aguán denounced attacks, killings and abuses at the hands of the private security forces employed by the Dinant Corporation, the owner of large-scale palm oil plantations in the north of the country. The corporation is receiving financing from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank, which has prompted the farmers to sue the international organisation.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for the murders, torture, assaults, beatings, trespassing, unjust enrichment and other acts of aggression committed by the company as part of a systematic campaign of persecution to intimidate the small farmers and force them to sign over rights to the land that Dinant wants to control.

The farmers have lodged complaints with international human rights organisations and have filed proceedings with courts in Honduras. The owner of the Dinant Corporation, Miguel Facussé Barjum, has, in addition, been accused of having links with drug trafficking organisations and allowing his property to be used as a transit point for planes carrying drugs.

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.

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