Last month, President General Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala moved to ban all negotiation of collective agreements in the public sector throughout the country. In addition, the government refuses to respect the public sector agreements that are already in place.
These actions directly violate a road map agreement on workers’ rights recently agreed to by the Guatemalan government and the International Labour Organization, designed to ensure compliance with ILO Convention 154 by establishing freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining in the public sector.
Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a trade unionist. The systemic murder of trade unionists is widespread and ongoing with sources citing 58 murders in recent years.
In fact, the labour rights situation in Guatemala is so bad that even the United States Government has filed a formal labour rights complaint against the country under the Dominican Republic Central America United States free trade agreement (CAFTA-DR). This is the first time in history that any country has filed a formal labour complaint under a global free trade agreement.
The Confederation of Canadian Unions supports the freedom of association of all workers. It is our position that collective bargaining is a fundamental human right that must be afforded to all workers around the globe. We support the right of all workers to exercise these rights free from coercion, intimidation, and the threat of violence.
We call on the government of Guatemala to immediately reinstate public sector collective bargaining and to address the systemic problems of violence against trade unionists in the country. We pledge our ongoing support and solidarity to workers there and around the world.