Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2018, 15:01 GMT

2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Jamaica

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Jamaica, 6 June 2012, available at: [accessed 18 February 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: 2,741,000
Capital: Kingston

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Murders: none reported
Attempted Murders: none reported
Threats: none reported
Injuries: none reported
Arrests: none reported
Imprisonments: none reported
Dismissals: none reported

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher


Jamaica continued to be plagued by the grave problem of trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation. Domestic workers remain deprived of labour and trade union rights. Precarious employment is used as a means of hampering the exercise of the right to organise, in addition to the direct action taken by private employers to crush existing trade union organisations.


In December 2011, Portia Simpson-Miller of the People's National Party (PNP) was elected as prime minister. She is the only woman to have held this post, which she previously occupied in 2006. Unemployment rose to 12.9% in 2011. Poverty has fallen in recent years but still affects 19% of the population. Jamaica's main source of income is tourism, which has been hit over recent years by the global crisis and the high rate of violent crime in the country.

Trade union rights in law

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".

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

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.

Union busting and derecognition: It is estimated that 20% of workers belong to a union. Where unions already exist, managers in some companies try to have their recognition withdrawn. In the private sector, employers tend to dismiss unionised workers and then re-hire them on short-term contracts with lower benefits.

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

Precarious work hinders unionisation of domestic employees: Domestic work in Jamaica is precarious, with very poor wages that fall below the minimum wage, very limited if any access to social security, and little respect for labour rights and conditions. This situation hinders the exercise of the right to organise and collective bargaining.


No entry for this country for this year

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