Population: 291,800
Capital: Belmopan
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

There was no change in Belize where the authorities still have the right to terminate a strike in services that, by international standards, are not considered essential. Restrictions continue on collective bargaining, including a law that gives the government the right to refer a dispute to compulsory arbitration.

Trade union rights in law

By law, workers are free to establish and join trade unions, and members are free to elect officers from their membership. The law prohibits anti-union discrimination.

Restrictions on the right to strike: Unions do have the right to strike, but this is limited for public sector workers in areas designated as "essential services". The Essential Services Act empowers the authorities to refer a dispute to compulsory arbitration to prohibit or terminate a strike. Such services are broadly defined, extending to postal, monetary, financial and transport services (civil aviation), and even services in which petroleum products are sold.

Restrictions on collective bargaining: The law provides for collective bargaining but, under the Trade Unions' and Employers' Organisations Act, a trade union can only be certified as a bargaining agent if it receives 51 per cent of the vote. Hence, if no union represents more than 50 per cent of workers, even the largest union at the workplace could be denied the right to collective bargaining.

The law also empowers the government to refer a dispute to compulsory arbitration in order to prohibit or terminate a strike.

The Labour Code applies in the country's export processing zones (EPZs).

Trade union rights in practice

In practice there is anti-union discrimination on the banana plantations and in the export processing zones, where employers do not recognise any unions.

Fines imposed on employers in cases of anti-union discrimination have proved too low to be dissuasive. It is difficult for workers to prove in court that they were unfairly dismissed because of their trade union activities.

This 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.