Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Azerbaijan

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 20 November 2008
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Azerbaijan, 20 November 2008, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
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: 8,500,000
Capital: Baku
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Unions reported many cases of bad faith negotiating by employers, and widespread reluctance by employers to recognise or deal with unions. The ban on strikes in public transport remains in place.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association and collective bargaining: The Constitution provides for freedom of association, including the right to form trade unions. In 2004, the government ratified the European Social Charter, notably the articles on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Under the 1994 Act on Trade Unions, seven persons or more may form a trade union and adopt its rules. Persons performing their military service, and managerial staff, are, however, excluded. The Act also provides for the right of trade unions to conclude collective agreements and prohibits discrimination against trade unions. A 1996 law provides for collective bargaining agreements to set wages in state enterprises.

In 2006 the Labour Code and the Act on Trade Unions were amended. According to the new changes employers cannot dismiss employees without the written consent of the trade union within the enterprise.

By-passing the unions in multinational enterprises: According to national legislation, all labour laws cover all workers and enterprises operating in Azerbaijan. However, the government can legally conclude with multinational enterprises (MNEs) bilateral agreements that set aside labour laws. The Parliament must ratify these agreements. They are not officially published, and neither unions nor even labour inspectorates have access to them. This anomaly is leading to the violation of labour rights in such enterprises. However, the government has acknowledged the problem in its report to the ILO.

Public transport strikes still banned: The Constitution provides for the right to strike, but there are exceptions. In addition to banning strikes in the services deemed essential by international standards, the 1999 Labour Code states that employees of legislative authorities, relevant executive authorities, courts and law enforcement authorities may not go on strike. Strikes are also prohibited in the railway and air transport sectors. Article 188-3 of the Penal Code bans collective action aimed at disrupting public transport, and failure to respect the ban carries a penalty of up to three years' imprisonment. In 2001, the government said it was revising its legislation and promised it would take ILO comments into account, but no new regulation has yet been adopted.

Restrictions on union activities: The State prohibits unions from carrying out any political activities. Unions may not be associated with political parties, carry out joint activities with them, or receive financial support or provide them with financial aid. Such a general prohibition is deemed contrary to the principles of freedom of association.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Background: The informal economy has been flourishing. According to different estimates up to half of the Azeri workforce may be working informally, without social security coverage and often without basic rights. Trade unions are trying to organise informal workers in spite of a number of technical and practical obstacles.

Foreign companies: organising difficult: In general, Western multinationals make obstacles to union organising.

A common tactic was to fail to transfer trade union dues to trade union accounts.

Directors of many foreign companies working in the oil sector (there are over 50) also prevented their workers from forming trade unions. A secret ballot taken in British Petroleum showed that the majority of workers wanted a trade union to be formed, but, since the employer openly opposes it, workers are still not unionised.

Collective bargaining not respected: Most industries are still state-owned and are run by government-appointed boards of directors who set wages. Despite the law, an effective system of collective bargaining between unions and enterprise management has yet to be established. Unions rarely participate in determining wage levels. Where collective agreements exist, they are not always respected.

The Azerbaijan Trade Union Confederation (ATUC) reported that although the law allows for workers in foreign companies to establish trade unions, and for non-Azerbaijani nationals to form trade unions, employers do not always respect the law.

Azeri nationals employed by foreign companies, notably oil companies, often face discrimination. In many cases they are hired on short term contracts for as little as three months and then dismissed from their positions. They are forced to work overtime, and do not receive annual holiday pay or compensation for occupational injuries or diseases.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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