Thursday, June 27, 2013

Violence against Guatemalan Trade Unions urgent case for ILO

ILO Governing Body adopts reports of the Committee on Freedom of Association. The Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) draws special attention to three serious and urgent country cases while noting progress in others.

GENEVA - The Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) drew the special attention of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Governing Body to the serious and urgent cases of Guatemala, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The Committee’s procedures define serious and urgent cases as those involving human life or personal freedom, or new or changing conditions affecting the freedom of action of a trade union movement as a whole. The CFA is a Governing Body committee composed of an independent chairperson and six representatives each of governments, employers and workers.

The cases examined in Guatemala, some of which go back to 2005, concern murders of trade unionists, death threats, other acts of violence and system failures leading to impunity. The Committee noted with interest the Memorandum of Understanding between the Workers’ group of the Governing Body and the Government of Guatemala, which included a commitment to:
  • institute, through the competent bodies of the state, independent and expeditious inquiries at the earliest possible date to determine responsibilities and punish the intellectual and material authors of murders of trade unionists and;
  • to guarantee the safety of workers, trade union officials and leaders so that they can carry out their trade union activities free from threat or violence.
The Committee firmly hoped that it would soon be able to see this political will translated fully into concrete action and results.

In Iran, the Committee, noting the Government’s indication that it continues its constructive attempts in relation to the imprisonment of Reza Shahabi, the Treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, called on it to secure his parole, pardon and immediate release.

The Committee again called on the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to take all steps within its power to conclude the investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for the abduction and maltreatment of FEDECAMARAS leaders in 2010 and was awaiting the final sentences in the alleged bomb attack in 2008 on its headquarters. The Committee firmly believed that the High-level Tripartite Mission agreed to by the Government should be able to make a contribution to resolving the problems in this case.

The Committee was pleased to note a number of cases in which its recommendations were given effect. In cases concerning Colombia, the Committee noted with interest that the parties reached agreements in the framework of the Special Committee on the Handling of Conflicts referred to the ILO (CETCOIT) and with the assistance of the ILO. The Government also provided a general report on the overall success of the CETCOIT, resolving 28 out of 52 cases through agreements, including cases that were before the CFA or were being considered for submission to the Committee. These developments were welcomed by the Chairperson of the Committee who encouraged other Governments to continue their efforts to find rapid and effective mechanisms for ensuring greater protection of trade union rights. Finally, the Committee welcomed the reinstatement of a number of trade union leaders in Pakistan, Peru and Poland.

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