Last Updated: Friday, 24 October 2014, 15:39 GMT

2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Venezuela

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Venezuela, 6 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fd889191f.html [accessed 24 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: 286,900,000
Capital: Caracas

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))

Reported Violations – 2012

Dismissals: 20

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher

Introduction

Anti-union practices continued in 2011. Anti-union discrimination, violations of collective bargaining rights and the non-respect of collective agreements were frequent and persistent in both the public and private sector.

Background

A new parliament took office in January 2011. President Hugo Chávez's allies had a majority, but the opposition took 40% of the seats. Despite the impact of the world economic crisis on Venezuela and the changes in the price of oil, it is still one of the most equitable in the region, with a Gini index of 0.3902 in July. The unemployment rate rose slightly during the year, reaching 8.5% for the first six months. The Government of Venezuela came under strong criticism from international organisations for the approval of laws that could severely limit the freedom of expression in Venezuela.

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 ten 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.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

Violation of ILO Convention 144: The President of the Republic violated ILO 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.

Violations

Non-compliance with collective agreement at Pirelli: In January 2011 the Pirelli multinational company, in Carabobo State, refused to negotiate with its workers, to meet some of its obligations under the existing collective agreement, or to change its policy of not respecting its workers' rights.

Violations of collective agreements and refusal to negotiate in the Guyana region: In February, aluminium workers from companies associated with the State holding company Corporación Venezolana de Guayana, in the South-East of the country, organised a series of stoppages to protest at contractual violations in the sector. They had been waiting four years for a new collective agreement, wage arrears remained unpaid and they faced constant violations of industrial health and safety standards.

Chrysler refuses to enter into collective bargaining at its car assembly plant: Workers at the Chrysler de Venezuela car assembly plant in Valencia, Carabobo State, held a five day protest beginning on 7 April. The company had refused to enter into collective bargaining after the presentation, in November 2010, of a list of conciliatory demands which included the regulation of better working conditions for employees, the payment of the agreed rest period, and improvements in health and safety at work.

Discrimination against workers in the judiciary: Leaders of the judiciary workers' unions the Sindicato Unitario Organizado Nacional de Trabajadores de la Administración de Justicia (Suontraj) and the Sindicato Único Nacional de Empleados Públicos de la Judicatura (Sunep-Judicatura), publicly protested on 29 April at the Executive Directorate of the Judiciary (Dirección Ejecutiva de la Magistratura – DEM) which had refused to grant judges the pay rise given to all other civil servants. They were also protesting at the suspension of talks on a new collective agreement and the dismissal of 20 trade union leaders over the last two years.

Conditional release of trade union leader: Rubén González, General Secretary of the union representing workers at the iron mining company "CVG Ferrominera Orinoco", who had been sentenced to 7 years, 6 months, 22 days and 12 hours in prison remained in prison until the end of 2010, after which he was given a conditional release, whereby he had to report to the courts every 45 days.

National Electoral Council invalidates Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV) structures:

The National Electoral Council adopted a resolution aimed at annulling or withdrawing recognition from legitimate CTV structures. The CNE declared the Fifth CTV Congress held in March 2011 to elect the CTV's new leaders null and void. It does not recognise the Electoral Committee elected at this event and claims that the CTV does not have a leadership structure. It therefore asked all affiliated organisations to convene a new CTV Congress, on the grounds that the Confederation is leaderless.

This interference by the CNE is aimed not only at getting involved in the trade unions' electoral process but is also being used as a means of avoiding the discussion of collective agreements in the public sector and State enterprises, while favouring a parallel government-supported trade union, on the grounds of a so-called "electoral default".

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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