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2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Ecuador

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Ecuador, 9 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c4fec80c.html [accessed 13 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: 13,600,000
Capital: Quito
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The absence of social dialogue led to serious trade union disputes. Violations of the right to organise and restrictions on collective bargaining were constant during 2009, both in the public and the private sectors. Employers continued to promote solidarista associations to prevent the exercise of trade union rights. The legislation does not promote trade union activities.

Trade union rights in law

Despite recent improvements, many excessive restrictions apply to trade union rights. The 2008 Constitution guarantees workers' right to organise, however it also limits this right in the public sector by establishing that only one organisation can represent state employees. The membership threshold for forming a union is excessive, and the union has no role in an establishment where a works council has more members than the union. In addition, only nationals may hold union leadership posts, and the Constitution restricts the re-election of union leaders.

Furthermore, while the right to collective bargaining is recognised, minority unions are not allowed to negotiate, and workers covered by the Civil Service and Administrative Careers Act have no collective bargaining rights. Collective industrial disputes shall also, in all cases, be referred to conciliation and arbitration tribunals.

While the Constitution guarantees the right to strike, in the private sector strikes can only be called at the company or factory level. Solidarity strikes and boycotts are also restricted to a maximum of three days. In addition, any action that paralyses certain public services is prohibited, and public servants having participated in such activities can be dismissed. The law also imposes prison terms on people participating in illegal stoppages or strikes.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: Ecuador saw a year of intense political activity during 2009, with the push for a new Constitution, which was approved by referendum. President Rafael Correa, whose mandate would have ended on 15 January 2011, stood as a candidate in the presidential elections held under the terms of the new Constitution and was re-elected on 26 April 2009. His term of office will end in August 2013.

The failure to engage in social dialogue on many of the constitutional reforms created a climate of social and labour discontent, which persisted throughout the year.

Employers block unionisation: Employers continue to support the creation and operations of solidarista associations. The establishment of these workers' associations is subject to the contribution of the employer they depend on, and are used in practice as a way of preventing the formation of trade unions or to weaken collective bargaining.

Representation dispute within CEOSL: The dispute within the Ecuadorian confederation of free trade unions, Confederación Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones Sindicales Libres (CEOSL), over the presence of two executive members claiming the leadership of the organisation was referred to by the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) in 2009, within the framework of case 2705 (see 2009 Survey). The Committee pointed to the principle that "when internal disputes arise in a trade union organization, they should be resolved by the persons concerned (for example, by a vote), by appointing an independent mediator with the agreement of the parties concerned, or by intervention of the judicial authorities". The CFA noted that the internal dispute within the CEOSL had been submitted to the judicial authority and that the latter had indicated that the solution would be to hold elections in the near future. Finally, the CFA noted with regret that these elections would be conducted "almost two years after the internal conflict occurred and the damage that this has caused the trade union organization and its members".

Anti-union practices and breaches of collective agreements at ERCO: Unrelenting anti-union practices and the breach of collective agreements by the Ecuadorian tire company, ERCO, owned by Continental Tire, in Cuenca, in the province of Azuay, led the company union to call a strike. Seven hundred workers downed tools on 31 July 2009 to demand respect for their rights. Sixteen days later, ERCO dismissed the entire union leadership and their substitutes (19 members) along with ten other workers, stating that it had suffered huge economic losses due to the suspension of tire production at the plant. The strike was called off a few days later. On 8 October, a new list of demands was submitted for the improvement of working conditions, leading to a further stoppage at the company. Finally, on 1 December, the Conciliation and Arbitration Court of the Regional Office of the Labour Relations Ministry ruled, in the final instance, that the strike was legal and legitimate, obliging the company to pay in accordance with the clauses of the collective agreement and the days' wages withheld during the strike. The workers are still waiting for the company to comply with the judicial ruling.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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