UN labour agency cites countries for serious union violations

21 November 2002

A new report by the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) has cited Belarus, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Zimbabwe for "serious infringements of the principle of freedom of association and violations of trade union rights."

A new report by the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) has cited Belarus, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Zimbabwe for "serious infringements of the principle of freedom of association and violations of trade union rights."

In the report, the ILO's Committee on Freedom of Association draws special attention to Belarus, where, it notes, there is a serious deterioration in trade union rights. The Committee expresses concern over measures which appear to be a manipulation of the trade union movement and capable of undermining the rights of workers to elect their representatives.

The Committee says it regrets declarations to the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus, attributed to the country's President, stating that those remarks "represent a clear attempt to transform the trade union movement into an instrument for the pursuance of political aims."

In the case of Colombia, the Committee lists allegations of attempted murders, abductions and threats against trade union officials and members, saying that it received reports of 45 murders, 37 abductions and nine attempted murders. It urged the Government to dismantle paramilitary and other violent revolutionary groups in the country.

With respect to Ecuador, the Committee cites allegations of violations of the right to strike, including the invasion of plantations by hundreds of armed and hooded men who wounded 12 workers and harassed female workers.

In Venezuela, the Committee refers to allegations of unfair dismissal of 3,500 workers in the regional government of the State of Trujillo, saying the authorities had shunned the Committee's appeal to reinstate the workers and calling for an independent inquiry into the reasons for the mass dismissal.

The Committee also cited the case of Zimbabwe, where plain-clothes representatives of the Zimbabwean Republic Police threatened to use force to disband a meeting of the Zimbabwean Confederation of Trade Union, despite a High Court ruling that the police did not have a right to attend the meetings.

 

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