Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Venezuela

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 - Venezuela, 8 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ea661d88.html [accessed 20 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: 28,600,000
Capital: Caracas
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138

There were frequent incidents of anti-union practices during the year, including dismissals, the denial of collective bargaining and obstacles to the creation of trade union organisations, in the public and private sectors. The law prevents trade unionists from carrying out their activities freely.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN LAW

Despite constitutional guarantees, trade union rights are not adequately protected. Workers have the right to form and join trade unions, however the law requires that the union submit full information regarding its members' identity, place of residence together with their signature. Furthermore, unions are not free to organise their internal administration. The Constitution requires union constitutions to make their leaders' mandates non-renewable, and foreigners are not allowed to belong to a union's executive body unless they have lived in the country for 10 years. The Constitution also provides that trade union elections shall be announced, organised, directed and supervised by the National Electoral Council (CNE), which is not a judicial organ. Finally, the Penal Code undermines, through the application of penalties, the right to hold peaceful demonstrations and the right to strike and block a company's production.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN PRACTICE AND VIOLATIONS IN 2010

Background: The economic crisis has had a strong impact on Venezuela with stagnating economic growth and a fall in average pay levels and the minimum wage. The government reported that despite the crisis and poor macro-economic indicators, social policies have led to progress in combating poverty and inequality. It also says that union membership has doubled in recent years with the creation of over 8,000 trade union organisations. However, several obstacles to the exercise of trade union rights remain in law and practice.

Violations of freedom of association and working conditions by magistrates governing body: On 24 January the National Administration of Justice Workers' Union (Suontraj) complained that the Executive Directorate of Magistrates (DEM) had refused to negotiate collective working conditions since 2007, it had not implemented the pay rise, had not paid any social charges or trusteeships since 2006 and had not paid the full Christmas bonus for 2009. In addition to these complaints, demonstrations were held in protest at the dismissal of several union members and nearly 100 judicial workers from several districts during the year.

Dismissals to prevent union at hidrobolivar, C.A.: On 26 February 2010, a group of workers from the Bolivar State Hydrology Company (Hidrobolivar) registered the Socialist Workers' Union of the Hidrobolivar Company (SINTRASHIDROBOL) with the "Alfredo Maneiro" labour inspectorate in Puerto Ordaz. The company learnt of the creation of the union on 3 March and dismissed 27 of the workers.

Anti-union dismissals at Mitsubishi: Mitsubishi dismissed nine trade union leaders and over 100 workers in violation of the employment stability decree which guarantees job security for Venezuelan workers. On 5 October the National Workers Union of Venezuela (UNT) organised demonstrations demanding compliance with the rights contained in the collective agreement as well as the respect of health and safety rules and job security. They also denounced the policy of outsourcing and the company's failure to comply with court rulings on the respect of workers' rights.

Collective bargaining denied and parallel union created in Libertador: On 27 October, employees of the town hall of the Libertador municipal district of Caracas, belonging to 14 trade union organisations and six retired workers' associations, protested at the refusal of the mayor, Jorge Rodríguez, to negotiate a collective agreement with the workers and at the creation of a parallel union that included members who were not even town hall employees.

Anti union practices at Makro: The Makro hypermarket in Puerto Ordaz deducted the time spent on trade union leave from the salaries of union members. The measure was taken in retaliation against the workers complaint to the Labour Inspectorate about the reduction in statutory leave payments. The company also made salary deductions when the unions in the company met to discuss merging. The union leaders have been persecuted by the employer.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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