Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 13:34 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Jamaica

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 - Jamaica, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 17 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: 2,700,000
Capital: Kingston
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

In 2010, there have been problems with the free exercise of the right of association because of the small number of trade unions and de-recognition or dismantling of existing trade unions. In addition there are difficulties in forming a new trade union. The trade unions that are recognised experience difficulties exercising the right to strike, as the right to strike is not recognised by law. Similarly, there continues to be a worryingly high level of human trafficking in the country.


While basic trade union rights are recognised, some areas of concern exist in the law. Under the 2006 Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act, workers have the right to create and join trade unions. The law prohibits anti-union discrimination, and employees may not be dismissed solely for belonging to a trade union. However, while the right to collective bargaining is guaranteed, bargaining is denied if no single union represents at least 40% of the workers, or if the union seeking recognition for collective bargaining does not obtain 50% of the votes of the total number of workers. The right to strike is not specifically protected in law, but neither is it explicitly prohibited except for workers in essential services. However, the Ministry of Labour has the power to refer an industrial dispute to compulsory arbitration and to terminate any strike if it is "likely to be gravely injurious to the national interest".


Background: Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy. The last parliamentary elections were held in 2007 and were won by the Jamaican Labour Party who later elected Bruce Holding as Prime Minster. The next elections will be held in October 2012. Jamaica is facing serious social problems as a result of their high unemployment rate, the 2nd highest in Latin America and violence, particularly in the capital, Kingston.

As a result of the recent financial and economic crisis, the Jamaican government announced that it has strengthened social dialogue mechanisms to deal with the consequences of the crisis.

Trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labour: Human trafficking is a consequence of several factors affecting the country; Jamaica is a source, transit, and destination country for victims of human trafficking. Although the Jamaican government has taken some steps to prosecute those responsible for human trafficking, it does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination this scourge.

Few unions and de-recognition of existing ones: It is estimated that 20% of workers belong to a union. In some companies, where a union already exists, managers have tried to get their recognition withdrawn. In the private sector, they have a tendency to dismiss unionised workers and then subsequently re-employ them on short-term contracts with lower benefits.

Anti-union practices are preventing the creation of unions in EPZs: It is common practice in companies in EPZs to threaten workers and create pro-employer "workers' councils", which interfere in the handling of complaints but are not allowed to engage in collective bargaining on working conditions or minimum wages. As a result, so far there are no unions in these zones.

Government intervention in labour disputes: Although the right to strike is not specifically protected by law, some strikes took place during the year. Nevertheless, workers that take part in strike action risk dismissal. The Ministry of Labour intervened directly in some labour disputes as the law allows the Ministry of Labour to terminate any strike.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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