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307th ILO Governing Body

ILO Governing Body concludes discussions on fundamental rights at work

The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) examined a number of issues regarding fundamental rights at work, including the latest report of the Committee on Freedom of Association.

Press release | 29 March 2010

GENEVA (ILO News) – The Governing Body of the International Labour Office (ILO) took a number of decisions regarding fundamental rights at work.

The Committee on Freedom of Association drew the special attention of the Governing Body to the cases of Colombia, Djibouti, Guatemala, the Philippines and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

In the longstanding case of Colombia, the Committee noted with interest the measures adopted by the Government to combat violence, but expressed again its deep regret at the murder of trade union leaders and members, and urged the Government to continue taking all necessary steps to guarantee that workers and their organizations can fully exercise their rights in freedom and safety.

While it asked the trade union organizations to provide the competent national bodies with all information that might facilitate the relevant investigations, the Committee requested the government to provide detailed information on developments in the climate of impunity and on concrete progress in the investigations. More particularly, the Committee asked to be informed about any relevant measures related to the alleged existence of links between paramilitary groups and those responsible for providing protection to trade union leaders and members, and regarding the allegations concerning Operation Dragon whose purpose is said to be the elimination of a number of union leaders.

In the case of Djibouti, the Committee noted with deep concern the obvious unwillingness of the Government to improve the situation and resolve the pending issues, and urged it to give priority to promoting and safeguarding freedom of association and to follow through on its previous commitments in respect of the workers dismissed in 1995 and to facilitate a transparent and sustainable social dialogue in the country. The Committee urged the Government to keep it informed of the progress made in this regard and to indicate the steps taken to guarantee the implementation of objective and transparent criteria for the nomination of Workers’ representatives to the International Labour Conference.

In the case of Guatemala, the Committee deeply deplored the fact that, despite the time that has elapsed since the submission of this complaint, the Government has limited itself to replying to only one of the numerous allegations in this case – some of which concern murders and death threats. It deplored the murder of the trade union officials Rolando Raquec and Luis Quinteros Chinchilla and the attempt against the life of Marco Alvarez Tzoc and Imelda Lopez de Sandoval, and urged the Government to inform it as a matter of urgency of the progress made in the inquiries and proceedings underway. The Committee further urged the Government to take all the necessary measures immediately to safeguard the lives of the wife and children of Rolando Raquec.

While noting with interest the steps indicated by the Government of the Philippines, including its acceptance of a high-level ILO mission on Convention No. 87 and the steps taken in follow-up to the mission’s recommendations, the Committee was nevertheless obliged to deplore the gravity of the allegations and the inadequacy of the measures taken to put an end to the killings, abductions, disappearances and other serious human rights violations. The Committee observed that a climate of violence and insecurity has an extremely damaging effect on the exercise of trade union rights in the country.

The Committee noted with interest the establishment of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council as the High-level Tripartite Monitoring Body on the application of international standards and in particular those relating to freedom of association. The Committee expected that this and other steps taken and envisaged by the Government to stop the persecution of labour leaders and trade unionists would make an important contribution to progressively ensuring a climate of justice and security for trade unionists in the country and requested to be kept informed of all developments in this regard.

The Committee once again examined a case against the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in relation to a long list of allegations of violations of the freedom of association rights of the most representative employers’ organization in the country, FEDECAMARAS. It deeply deplored that the Government has ignored its previous recommendations, and urged the Government to establish a high-level joint national committee in the country, with the assistance of the ILO, to examine each and every one of the allegations and issues in this case so that the problems can be solved through direct dialogue.

In another case brought by the Venezuelan Workers’ Confederation (CTV) concerning the murder of five trade union leaders and delegates in the construction industry and the alleged contract killings of more than 200 workers and union officials in the same sector, the Committee requested the Government to explain why the criminal proceedings had been terminated and urged that new investigations be initiated thus enabling the identification and punishment of the perpetrators in the near future.