3 – Regular violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Venezuela

The ITUC affiliates in Venezuela are the Alianza Sindical Independiente (ASI) and the Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV).

In practice

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Refusal to recognise trade union organisation and collective agreement at INCES31-12-2017

The year 2017 went by without the National Electoral Council (CNE) formally acknowledging the results of the leadership elections held on 30 August 2016 by SINTRAINCES, the union representing employees at the INCES (National Institute for Socialist Training and Education), which are supposed to be published in the Electoral Gazette. On 16 March 2017, the trade union presented the Labour Ministry with its administrative accounts, the updated list of affiliates and the reform of its statutes, as required, but received no response to any of its applications. Furthermore, trade union levies are deducted from the employees’ wages but are not passed on to the organisation, and trade union leave is not granted. The INCES has refused to provide the benefits set out in the collective agreement and, in exchange, is unilaterally offering a financial consideration that does not compensate for the benefits owed.

Refusal to register new trade union centre06-07-2018

During 2017, the Labour Ministry refused to register the Central de Trabajadores/as ASI Venezuela, which was formed on 1 December 2015, and meets all the legal requirements.

Anti-union repression in transport sector30-12-2017

During 2017, the serious crisis in the transport sector left over 80% of the employees out of work due to the national policies controlling the purchase, maintenance and renewal of vehicles and parts in the country. The situation is affecting cargo transport, public transport services and private businesses at all levels. The transport workers’ federation Fedetransporte has kept up its protests and demands, calling on the national government to take every measure necessary to resolve the situation, which is seriously affecting the lives and financial stability of thousands of workers and their families. The government has responded with repression. Numerous trade union leaders were detained during marches, as well as suffering repeated threats and intimidation.

Repression of trade unionists at National Assembly23-06-2017

On 6 and 23 June 2017, members of the union representing public servants at the National Assembly, SINFUCAN (Sindicato de Funcionarios y Funcionarias de Carrera de la Asamblea Nacional), were attacked by the National Guard whilst taking part in a protest calling for the payment of arrears in wages, benefits and settlements payable to pensioned employees. They were also protesting over the delays in providing work uniforms and safety gear, arrears in the settlements payable to workers on disability pensions and the payment of several months’ bonuses and early education services (nursery and pre-school). Several trade union leaders were left injured by the authorities’ violent response. In addition, trade union levies are deducted at source at the National Assembly but are not transferred to the trade union organisation.

Staggered stoppages and strike at Polar30-06-2015

In April 2015, unionised workers at Polar initiated 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 to demand the negotiation of 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) and to protest the management’s impositions.

In June 2015, Juan Rodríguez, president of the Sindicato Único Regional de Trabajadores de Territorio Centro Polar (SINTRATERRICENTROPOLAR), together with the leader of another union representing Polar employees, Obe Villegas, launched an appeal for all unions to reject the collective agreements imposed by the company, insisting that the clauses should not be imposed from above, nor by a group of unions that have been in power for 30 years and want to pander to the bosses.

They denounced the fact that the CBA expired 18 months ago and the management has not respected the Labour Ministry’s order for it to sit down and come to an agreement with the union. For this reason, workers continued to hold staggered stoppages at the Oriente plant, Pepsi-Cola and some 40 beer distributors. They also threatened to step up their protests should the management fail to respond.

Excessive interference in trade union activities25-01-2015

Excessive regulation results in the state having the power to accept or reject lists of demands and 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 addition to paralysing 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
. All this, in turn, is deployed as a tactic to wear down the workers and their leaders. Illustrations include the INCES (National Institute for Socialist Training and Education), where the union completed all the formal procedures but the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry for the Social Process of Labour overran the legal time limit and delayed the start of the collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
negotiations without any justification.

Another recent example was the suspension by the Electoral Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the SUTISS union elections at the state-owned company Sidor, based on a supposed violation of the internal deadlines. The private sector and opposition-led local governments also take advantage of these legal hurdles.

Trade union leaders arrested in Puerto la Cruz03-02-2014

On 3 February 2014, José Bodas, general secretary of the oil workers’ federation Federación Unitaria de Trabajadores de Petróleos de Venezuela and nine trade union representatives were arrested by the Bolivarian National Guard for protesting the delay in the negotiation of the collective agreement and distributing leaflets at the PDVSA refinery in Puerto la Cruz, in the state of Anzoátegui. They were tried on charges of allegedly violating a security zone.

Strike at Ferrominera del Orinoco28-01-2014

In June 2013, workers at the state iron ore company Ferrominera del Orinoco, in the state of Bolívar, staged 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
for over 10 days to demand the payment of the monies owed to employees and the reinstatement of workers dismissed. The national government responded to the workers’ action by sending the military to occupy the site. The protesters condemned the government’s action, which they labelled as a move to criminalise the constitutional 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
. Following pressure from the workers, the government ordered that the troops be withdrawn and that dialogue and negotiations be initiated to resolve the dispute, which was settled following a number of agreements between the authorities and the trade union leaders.

Murder of trade unionists17-10-2013

According to the UNETE trade union, murders of trade union members and leaders continued to occur in 2012 and 2013. In September 2012, a human rights organisation recorded 65 murders of trade unionists (Report by the Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social).

Trade unionists attacked by the Polar Group17-10-2013

In October 2013, the UNETE trade union denounced the harassment of trade union leaders by the Polar Group and its subcontractors. The company brought actions before state bodies requesting dismissals, criminal prosecutions and the filing of police complaints.

Interference in trade union organisations17-10-2013

In October 2013, the UNETE trade union denounced that the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the Labour Ministry were continuing their practice of interfering in trade union organisations, particularly in their election processes and through the practice by the Ministry and public services bodies of refusing to deal with organisations whose leaders they deemed elected due to electoral default. Although CNE intervention in elections is now optional according to the regulations, it remains a significant obstacle 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
.

Labour disputes in EFE Company17-10-2013
Collective bargaining in the pharmaceutical industry17-10-2013
PDVSA violates collective bargaining agreement17-10-2013

In October 2013, the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Venezuela (UNETE) denounced that the government is breaching the agreements in force. This is the case with in excess of 80% of the clauses of the collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreement with Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), including the payment of social benefits.

Militarisation of state-owned oil factory24-09-2013

On 30 July 2013, leaders of the unions at the state-owned companies Pescalba and La Gaviota denounced the militarisation of the state-owned edible oil factory “Diana”, located in the state of Carabobo. The factory was militarised when the workers rejected the appointment by the Minister of Food of a new manager.

Criminalisation of the right to strike24-09-2013
Demonstration prohibited at Agropatria24-09-2013

In September 2012, an interim injunction injunction A court order prohibiting or preventing a certain course of action, such as calling or continuing with a strike. prohibiting workers and trade unions at the Agropatria company from demonstrating was imposed by the High Agrarian Court of Aragua and Carabobo by order of the Minister of Agriculture and Land .

Violation of the right of strike in Galletera Carabobo31-12-2012
Collective agreement breaches in energy company31-03-2012

In March 2012, outsourced staff from the state-owned National Electricity Corporation (Corporación Eléctrica Nacional) was not enjoying the benefits of the collective agreement as they were hired directly by the Minister for Energy.

Labour dispute in Petrocasa30-06-2012

Workers from the state-owned home manufacturer Petrocasa were engaged in a several month long dispute over layoffs and a lack of pay rises at the firm. Workers said they have been shut out of the plant in June 2012 without justification.

Refusal to bargain in good faith31-01-2012
Attempted violence against union leader21-05-2012

On 21 May 2012, an armed assailant entered the EFE ice cream factory (part of the Polar group) in Caracas and asked to see Abraham Rivas, General Secretary of the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Socialistas de Productos EFE and also General Secretary of the recently created Federación Nacional Clasista de Trabajadores de Alimentos, Bebidas, Conexos y Afines (FENACTRALBECA), which organises workers in 21 different companies belonging to the Polar Group. The workers became suspicious and when they called the National Bolivarian Guard it was revealed that the man had been hired to carry out an attack on Abraham Rivas.

Interference in the right to elect workers’ representatives29-02-2012

In February 2012, Elio Sayago was dismissed from his position as worker-president at the state aluminium company CVG Aluminio del Caroní S.A. (CVG ALCASA) and replaced by Angel Marcano.

Violation of ILO Convention 144 31-12-2011

The President of the Republic violated ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Convention 144 on tripartite consultation, exercised political discrimination and ignored the representativeness of trade union organisations not close to the government when on 12 December he appointed a 16-member Special Commission to draft a new Organic Labour Law, all of whom are members of the ruling party. The three trade unionists on the commission are from the recently-created “Bolivarian and Socialist Workers’ Confederation” which was selected by the president.

Strategies undermining collective bargaining30-11-2009

Unjustified delays in collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
negotiations were common practice during 2009, both in the public and private sectors, giving rise to many trade union protests. The delays resulted in the expiry and failure to renew many collective agreements. By June 2009, 243 collective agreements were left unsigned and over 3.500 agreements had not been discussed.

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