The Global State of Workers' Rights - Syria
|Publication Date||31 August 2010|
|Cite as||Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Syria, 31 August 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d4fc7f228.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
All Syrian professional groups have been required to belong to the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) since 1968. While the GFTU is a nominally independent organization, it is closely linked to the ruling Baath party, and its president is a senior party member. The Ministry of Labor determines the GFTU Congress's composition and regulates union funds. The GFTU in turn can dissolve unions' executive committees.
Strikes in nonagricultural sectors are legal, but they rarely occur, and workers often face serious disciplinary action if they strike illegally. If strikes in certain sectors involve more than 20 workers, or if a strike occurs in a public place or includes the occupation of a job site or area, the strikers face fines and prison terms.
While workers in Syria's seven free-trade zones (FTZs) have the right to organize, no unions currently exist in the zones. Non-Syrians do not have the same legal protections as Syrians. Though foreign workers can participate in unions, they cannot serve in leadership positions.
The GFTU rarely calls strikes or other public protests, but it does often act as a conduit between workers, management, and the political leadership. The GFTU has been involved in discussions on the minimum wage, hours and working conditions, and training programs to ease unemployment concerns.