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2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Paraguay

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Paraguay, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52cad028.html [accessed 26 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 6,831,306
Capital: Asunción
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The new administration of President Fernando Lugo has given rise to a new relationship between the unions and the government. There have, however, been major conflicts of interest over what the workers consider to be threats to collective agreements in the public sector as well as over the government's drive to overhaul its administrative staff in a bid to root the presence of the Colorado Party out of the state apparatus. Little improvement has been seen in the private sector, where there has been no letup in the policy of disrespect and exclusion.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association – many restrictions: The Constitution allows both private and public sector workers to form and join unions. Article 289 of the Labour Code stipulates that "workers cannot form company unions if they have less than 20 members or union committees if they have less than 30 members". Workers may not be members of more than one union. Candidates for trade union office must work in the company and be active members of the union. All unions must be registered with the Ministry of Justice and Labour, and the procedures are cumbersome. Employers can file a writ opposing the registration of a union.

Collective bargaining: The law provides for collective bargaining and prohibits anti-union discrimination, however there are few genuinely dissuasive sanctions and the labour courts are not obliged to demand the reinstatement of unfairly dismissed trade unionists.

Right to strike: The Constitution provides for the right to strike, but strikes can only be called for the sole purpose of directly and exclusively protecting workers' occupational interests. A minimum service must be ensured in the event of a strike in essential public services. Article 353 of the Labour Code sets so many prerequisites that it is very difficult to meet them all, and employers use these requirements to declare strikes illegal and sack the strikers.

No progress with legal reforms: The government has failed to act on ILO recommendations to amend legal provisions that fail to comply with the Conventions on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: Although the coming to power of President Fernando Lugo's government has created a climate of dialogue and cooperation with the workers, an atmosphere of persistent tension permeated the public sector as a result of dismissals, the non-payment of wages, health cover issues and other problems. The unions denounced attempts to make mass dismissals. Representatives of the national trade union centres, the Confederación Nacional de Trabajadores (CONAT), Central Paraguaya de Trabajadores (CTP), Central General de Trabajadores (CGT), Central Unitaria de Trabajadores (CUT) and the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores-Auténtica (CUT-A), insisted on the need to ensure respect for human rights, national labour laws and the ILO conventions.

Unionised workers dismissed from private company: In October, unionised workers at the Casino de Asunción Worest (managed by SES S.A.) filed a complaint with the Justice, Labour and Social Security Committee of the Parliament over the dismissal of four union representatives and five members following the formation of a company union. A strike was called in support of the demand for the workers' reinstatement, as well as claims related to working conditions, bonus payments and unpaid social security contributions.

Workers dismissed in spite of trade union protection rights: In September, workers affiliated to the security guards' union, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores Guardias de Seguridad y Afines del Paraguay, demonstrated against their employer, Sevipar S.A., distributing pamphlets at the gates of the various companies subcontracting its security services, in protest at the dismissal of two employees with trade union protection rights. The unionists also denounced the fact that the company is in breach of the labour law, as it only pays one section of workers the minimum wage, does not fulfil its social security obligations and shows no respect for the right to freedom of association.

BBVA presses for derecognition of union: In June, the bank workers' federation, Federación de Trabajadores Bancarios (Fetraban), denounced attempts by the Paraguayan subsidiary of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) to attack freedom of association. The complaint was lodged with the Ministry of Justice and Labour, as well as various international organisations. Vicente Bogliolo, the bank's chief executive officer, reiterated the institution's commitment to national and international labour laws, at the same time, however, as submitting a request to the Ministry of Justice and Labour for the derecognition of the union, arguing that the organisation no longer had the required number of members.

Persecution of nursing union leader: Aurelia Villamayor, General Secretary of the nursing union, Sindicato de Enfermería del Hospital Nacional (SEHN), was excluded in May from the guard duty staff in the outpatient department. The union reported a number of other incidents such as a raid on the nursing union's office in February and the confiscation of documents required for the everyday running of the trade union organisation.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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