Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2017, 11:39 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Ecuador

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 - Ecuador, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 24 November 2017]
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

Anti-union practices persisted. A number of employers were fined for violating the rights of domestic workers. The United Nations noted the existence of child labour, forced labour and other contemporary forms of slavery, along with the threats and attacks levelled against trade union rights defenders.


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.


Background: On 30 September, a section of the police force attempted a coup d'état, attacking President Rafael Correa and holding him hostage for several hours. At the same time, trade union organisations were holding a series of protests against government measures to cut public workers' benefits, including those of police officers.

The government remains hostile towards the trade union movement in the public sector. Numerous labour disputes during 2010 were linked to the discussion and approval of the laws on public companies and the public service, over which the National Assembly and public sector organisations had reached a consensus that the government subsequently ignored. The government did, however, offer some progress in terms of labour rights and announced the incorporation of the principle and elements of decent work as a key part of its social policy.

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.

Child labour, forced labour: The Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, its causes and consequences, Ms Gulnara Shahinian, visited Ecuador from 25 January to 1 February. The Special Rapporteur highlighted the existence of child labour, practices akin to slavery, forced labour and servitude in Ecuador, especially on the banana and flower plantations, in the palm oil and gold mining sectors and the informal economy. Such practices largely involve people of African descent, indigenous peoples, children from poor families, women, asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented or illegally trafficked migrants. The Rapporteur welcomed the government's genuine commitment and efforts to implement policies to tackle these serious problems.

Protesting workers attacked at ERCO: Following trade union rights violations in 2009, ERCO, the Ecuadorian tire company, received a court order to reinstate the affected workers and pay them damages. The company, however, refused to recognise its obligations, leading to a protest being held in July by the 330 workers on the works councils at the plant based in Cuenca, in the province of Azuay. The national police blocked the workers' access to the factory then used pepper gas and violence to disperse the demonstrators.

Representation dispute within CEOSL: The representation dispute within the Ecuadorian confederation of free trade unions CEOSL (Confederación Ecuatoriana de Organizaciones Sindicales Libres) led to two leaders acting in the organisation's name for almost 14 months. In 2010, a section of the CEOSL's membership initiated judicial proceedings against the decisions taken by the National Electoral Council regarding the drawing up of a new statute for the organisation, which, among other reforms, forced it to change the rules on the election of its executive members.

Amid these divisions and disputes, a section of the CEOSL membership (over 800 delegates from across the country and the various affiliated organisations, from grassroots unions to federations) attended, on 27 May, the founding assembly of a new trade union confederation, the Confederación Sindical del Ecuador (CSE). The Ministry of Labour Relations registered the new union.

Fines for violating domestic workers' rights: The Ministry of Labour Relations waged a campaign between March and July to monitor compliance with the labour rights of domestic workers. The campaign covered 24 provinces and four cities. A total of 46,820 people (employers and workers) took part and 13,592 inspections were conducted. Four hundred and fifty six notifications of non-compliance with the law on domestic workers' rights were filed.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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