Country Rating: 3
Regular violation of rights
Government and/or companies are regularly interfering in collective labour rights or are failling to fully guarantee important aspects of these rights. There are deficiencies in laws and/or certain practices which make frequent violations possible.
Interference in trade union organisations: In October 2013, the UNETE trade union denounced that the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the Labour Ministry were continuing their practice of interfering in trade union organisations, particularly in their election processes and through the practice by the Ministry and public services bodies of refusing to deal with organisations whose leaders they deemed elected due to electoral default. Although CNE intervention in elections is now optional according to the regulations, it remains a significant obstacle to collective bargaining.
Trade unionists attacked by the Polar Group: In October 2013, the UNETE trade union denounced the harassment of trade union leaders by the Polar Group and its subcontractors. The company brought actions before state bodies requesting dismissals, criminal prosecutions and the filing of police complaints.
Militarisation of state-owned oil factory: On 30 July 2013, leaders of the unions at the state-owned companies Pescalba and La Gaviota denounced the militarisation of the state-owned edible oil factory "Diana", located in the state of Carabobo. The factory was militarised when the workers rejected the appointment by the Minister of Food of a new manager.
PDVSA violates collective bargaining agreement: In October 2013, the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores de Venezuela (UNETE) denounced that the government is breaching the agreements in force. This is the case with in excess of 80% of the clauses of the collective bargaining agreement with Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), including the payment of social benefits.
Collective bargaining in the pharmaceutical industry: In the case of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical laboratories and companies SM Pharma C.A. and SM Esamar C.A. have breached their obligation to pay the benefits established in the three most recent collective bargaining agreements: 2005-2007, 2008-2010 and 2010-2012.
Labour disputes in EFE Company: The dispute procedure had to be initiated at the EFE manufacturing company because of the delay in negotiating a new collective agreement and following an almost three-week long strike. In October 2013, the union expressed concern that the arbitration process seemed to be moving towards deterioration in the labour conditions.
Strike at Ferrominera del Orinoco: In June 2013, workers at the state iron ore company Ferrominera del Orinoco, in the state of Bolívar, staged a strike for over 10 days to demand the payment of the monies owed to employees and the reinstatement of workers dismissed. The national government responded to the workers' action by sending the military to occupy the site. The protesters condemned the government's action, which they labelled as a move to criminalise the constitutional right to strike. Following pressure from the workers, the government ordered that the troops be withdrawn and that dialogue and negotiations be initiated to resolve the dispute, which was settled following a number of agreements between the authorities and the trade union leaders.
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