Last Updated: Thursday, 30 October 2014, 13:45 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Uruguay

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 - Uruguay , 8 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ea661d9c.html [accessed 30 October 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: 3,400,000
Capital: Montevideo
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Anti-trade union practices were frequent in the private sector in 2010. There were also several cases of antitrade union discrimination. Violations in collective bargaining led to large mobilisations in the security sector.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN LAW

There are some areas of concern despite basic trade union rights being secured. The Constitution guarantees freedom of association and recognises the right to strike as a trade union right. Workers are adequately protected against acts of antiunion discrimination and dismissal, and the law also provides for reinstatement in the case a unionist is unfairly dismissed.

While the right to collective bargaining is recognised in law, it is mostly carried out by branch of activity, with Wages Councils regulating the minimum wage and working conditions for each category of workers. The Wages Councils are tripartite bodies, and the Ministry of Labour is one of the negotiating parties. The ILO has held that the possibility of a vote being held in the Councils for setting conditions of employment infringes upon the principle of free and voluntary bargaining.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN PRACTICE AND VIOLATIONS IN 2010

Background: Social measures to protect against the effects of the world economic crisis have been adopted through a process of social dialogue. The government and trade unions have put forward a wide-ranging programme for the promotion of collective bargaining, although some problems remain in the public sector, and some companies still violate trade union rights.

Mid-crisis, the Uruguayan economy has grown faster than the regional average, while unemployment has remained low, formal employment has increased and over the last three years the minimum wage has risen by 65%. The ILO noted that union membership and the number of workers covered by collective agreements has increased in Uruguay.

Anti union practices at companies subcontracted by UPM cellulose factory: Several companies that were outsourced to supply raw materials to the Finnish cellulose factory UPM engaged in anti union practices against their employees during the year, including anti-union dismissals and the failure to respect wage agreements with workers. The Cargo Transport and Related Industries Workers Union (SUTCRA) urged the multinational company UPM to ensure that the companies it outsourced to respected trade union rights and paid workers the full pay packet, under pain of ending their supply of raw materials to the factory, which was the real beneficiary of the contractors.

Anti-union discrimination at Prosegur: The Prosegur Uruguay Workers' Union (SITPRO) were the victims of anti-union discrimination by the company, which imposed a heavier workload on unionised workers than on the rest of its employees, obliging them to work in sub-human conditions. Similarly, there were delays in paying all the workers at the company, and salaries were reduced following the application of an illegal system for recording working time.

Demonstrations against failure of private security companies to negotiate: Employees of the multinational companies Prosegur, G4S y Securitas and of local private security companies in Uruguay held public demonstrations to demand compliance with the law on the creation of Wage Councils, a bargaining mechanism whereby both workers and employers agree on progressive wage adjustments in a specific branch of activity over a given period of time. The unions were waiting for collective bargaining to begin at the time of writing.

The 29 September general strike called by the UGT and CCOO and widely supported by other trade union and social organisations in response to the package of measures was met with a markedly anti-union campaign by the media on the radio, in the written press and on television.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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