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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Dominican Republic

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Dominican Republic, 8 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ea6621332.html [accessed 2 September 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: 10,000,000
Capital: Santo Domingo
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Freedom of association was seriously affected in 2010. Hundreds of workers lost their jobs and were subjected to a wide range of discriminatory practices purely because they took part in trade union activities.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN LAW

Basic trade union rights are secured, however there are some problematic areas in the law. The new Constitution that was proclaimed on 26 January 2010 did not improve this situation. Freedom of association is guaranteed in the Constitution, but is limited for public servants. In order to establish a public servants' union, 40% of the total number of employees in an institution is required. Also, to form a confederation, a federation must obtain a two-thirds majority vote by their members. The law does not establish effective sanctions to protect workers against acts of anti-union discrimination.

While the right to collective bargaining is recognised, a union must represent an absolute majority of the workers in an enterprise or branch of activity to be able to bargain collectively. Furthermore, to call a lawful strike there must have been a prior attempt to resolve the conflict through mediation, and a majority of the employees in the company must vote in favour of the action, regardless of whether they are trade union members.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN PRACTICE AND VIOLATIONS IN 2010

Background: The Dominican Republic experienced weak economic growth in 2010, with a lack of decent work, institutional problems and the repercussions of the serious situation in Haiti. At the end of the year, the National Human Rights Commission highlighted in its report "Aberrant and outrageous official corruption, a sustained loss of quality in public and private services, an increase in drug trafficking, violent deaths and blatant official violations of the Constitution and the law". Other issues included institutional weaknesses, poor citizen security, lynchings, disappearances, migration and the labour situation. The country has not reached its own goal of allocating 4% of GDP to education and has announced that it will not meet the Millennium Development Goals.

Government indifference to freedom of association violations: The president of the National Trade Union Unity Confederation (CNUS) Rafael Abreau believes the Labour Minister is well aware that freedom of association is violated in the country but that he has done nothing to improve the situation. In June the CNUS lodged a complaint against the government for violation of freedom of association by obstructing the registration of trade unions.

CNUS denounces dismissals of trade union leaders: The National Trade Union Unity Confederation (CNUS) reported that an Afghan businessman, the general manager of Nestlé de San Francisco de Macorís, dismissed the leaders of the company's workers' union. It was yet another example of the lack of respect for the workers' right to organise freely in order to defend their rights. At a press conference the CNUS accused the Nestlé manager of organising a campaign of repression against the trade union leaders.

CNUS denounces obstacles to freedom of association: The president of the National Trade Union Unity Confederation (CNUS) Rafael Abreau complained that Barrick Gold had obstructed the formation of a trade union by his workers when all that remained was the approval of the Labour Ministry. The union's creation was not approved because Barrick Gold hired a firm of lawyers to bring a legal case against the creation of the union. New trade unions have to wait a long time to get approval from the Ministry of Labour. The majority of employers' associations are opposed to freedom of association and more than half of workers' unions that obtain legal personality are not able to operate within their company.

Union representation obstructed: When the Lendestoy and Associates Call Centre learnt of the trade union campaign starting up, it initiated a process of disinformation and threats against workers to stop them joining the union. In December the company applied to the court for a lifting of "fuero sindical" (protection from dismissal for trade union officers) from a group of workers. Without waiting for the Labour Court's decision, the company dismissed the employees concerned as well as others who formed part of the union's management committee. The Court ordered their reinstatement. After the company was notified of the court ruling, the workers were prevented from entering the workplace.

Right to reinstatement denied: Several court rulings have denied workers the right to reinstatement that they have under the terms of "fuero sindical" (protection from dismissal for trade union officers) . In the case of CIRAMAR, the Civil, Commercial and Labour Court of First Instance in the Pravia Judicial District ruled on 12 July against the reinstatement of the leadership of the workers' union, even though it was recognised that they were protected by "fuero sindical". The Civil Court argued that they only had the right to compensation. In the case of SAMEX Internacional S.L. – CODACSA, the Labour Court of the San Pedro de Marcorís Judicial Department rejected the request for the reinstatement of trade union leaders suspended by the company. The National Confederation of Dominican Workers (CNTD) lodged a complaint with the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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