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2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Mongolia

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 - Mongolia, 6 June 2012, available at: [accessed 17 December 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: 2,756,000
Capital: Ulan Bator

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


While the right to collective bargaining is excessively regulated in the law, trade union rights are generally respected. Problems exist with implementing and monitoring the law, and corruption remains endemic. Trafficking, forced labour and child labour remain widespread.


An estimated one-quarter of the country's population is now believed to reside in a vast shantytown on the outskirts of the capital, Ulan Bator, living in the traditional round felt tents (gers). Most ger district residents have limited access to electricity and no running water, sewage or central heating. Many suffer from limited education, few transferable job skills, no official documents and high unemployment.

Accelerated development in Mongolia over recent years along with a rapid increase in foreign investment has led to improved infrastructure and the growth in large mineral and power plants. However, trade unions are facing increased pressure from privatisation as the government and employers are attempting to create a more "flexible" labour market. Despite the fact that Mongolia has ratified all the eight core labour conventions, it continues to face problems, notably discrimination against women in employment.

Public concern has been growing over the lack of visible benefits for the public from major mining deals, with conflicts and confrontations increasing dramatically in the last few years. On 3 January the Mongolian government announced a tripartite memorandum with trade unions and the employers' union to solve conflicts, complaints and matters regarding mining.

Trade union rights in law

Although basic trade union rights are protected, there are a number of areas of concern. Freedom of association is guaranteed in the Constitution, the Labour Code and in labour laws, but is only extended to "citizens". The laws also fail to guarantee trade union rights to the government's administrative employees. Furthermore, while the right to collective bargaining is secured, the government may participate in the bargaining at all levels, and only certain items can be bargained upon at each specific level. All collective disputes are also subject to a compulsory conciliation procedure. While the right to strike is recognised, it can only be practised in connection with collective bargaining, and only when the dispute is not being negotiated or conciliated. A number of provisions further limit the right to strike, including the requirement that a decision to strike be taken by a quorum of two-thirds of the membership, and that the organisers of a strike indicate the duration of the strike in advance. Sympathy strikes are also prohibited.

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

In practice

Child labour: Child labour remains a problem and sources suggest that some 77,000 children are forced to work to support themselves or their families. Up to 90% of these are believed to be involved in traditional animal husbandry. Many children are also involved in informal mining operations, and the average age of child miners is just 14 years. Over 30,000 children work as jockeys each year.

Trafficking, forced labour and migrant workers:

Despite legislation against trafficking and forced labour, Mongolia remains a source country for trafficking, primarily of women, mostly to China and Asian countries. Local NGOs have also reported an increase in internal sex trafficking and forced prostitution.

Draft legislation on combating trafficking in persons was debated in 2011. The aim of the proposed stand-alone law is to prevent trafficking and protect victims through improved rehabilitation and reintegration assistance and compensation. The draft law was approved by MPs on 28 October. Around 200,000 Chinese are estimated to be working in Mongolia. A decision to employ 6,949 workers from China in the Oyu Toloi mine in May prompted calls for a labour inspection by the Mongolian Labour Union.


North Korean workers exploited: Mongolian law specifically prohibits forced labour but reports continue to emerge regarding the situation of North Korean workers employed there, mainly in mining, factory work, utilities, transportation, construction, customer service and health service. Mongolia increased its quota of North Koreans allowed to work in the country from 2,200 to 3,000 in 2011. It is believed that the North Koreans are prohibited from leaving work and are unable to complain about working conditions, with labour brigades usually overseen by North Korean officials maintaining similar tight controls to those faced by the workers back in their totalitarian homeland. In October, journalists uncovered some 80 North Koreans working at the privately owned Eermel garment factory producing for a well known British brand. While the workers are given food and a place to sleep, their wages are apparently paid directly to a North Korean government agency.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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