PSI Executive Board adopts a resolution on Ecuador

06 June 2012
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At its recent meeting in Geneva, the Executive Board of the Public Services International adopted this resolution on Ecuador:

ECUADOR: DEFENCE OF TRADE UNION AND WORKERS’ RIGHTS IN THE PUBLIC SERVICES,
AND STRENGTHENING PUBLIC SERVICES IN PUBLIC HANDS

NOTING THAT: PSI, and its affiliates in Ecuador, have been made aware of acts of interference by the government in a number of trade unions in the public sector, together with acts of intimidation and criminalization against protests made by workers, as mentioned in the study carried out by PSI-CEDES in December 2011. These actions have destroyed the working and trade union rights of the men and women who work in the public sector in Ecuador. PSI and its affiliates in Ecuador have confirmed these facts on a number of different occasions, including the following: a visit made to Ecuador in May 2011 by the PSI General Secretary, and an international trade union mission composed of PSI and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF); a visit made in March 2012 by the Latin American Confederation of Judiciary Workers (CLTJ); with the coming into effect of the new Constitution in 2008, the issuing of three Constitutional Mandates, new legislation concerning state enterprises and the Organic Law of Public Service; likewise with a series of executive decrees, ministerial agreements and policies directed against the trade unions;

ALSO NOTING THAT: Labour reform has led to the deepening of the social division of labour between those designated as workers and those called civil servants, leading to fragmentation of the workforce, causing greater inequality before the law and the phasing out of trade union rights. As a result of this, only 4.6% of persons employed in the public sector belong to trade unions, and do not have any practical possibility of fully exercising collective bargaining activities, and even less of declaring a strike, since the constitution expressly prohibits the suspension of any public service, which is defined in the Ecuadorian Criminal Code as a crime of sabotage and terrorism;

CONCERNED BECAUSE: Reform has also led to an alarming level of job instability, whereby, using ploys such as punitive evaluation of job performance, removal of items from budgets, unwarranted dismissals, and administrative approval and proceedings, 17,000 men and women working in the public service have, according to official figures, been dismissed since 2008. This has had a serious and disorganizing effect on the provision of public services.

IT HAS ALSO BEEN NOTED THAT: The legal and administrative measures taken to repress rights have been accompanied by a vigorous campaign to discredit the trade union leadership, trade unions and their achievements, dismissing the interests of the public sector trade union movement, and trying to make them appear corporate and in opposition/contradiction to the general interest of society and the objectives of the State. Together with this, a State strategy has been applied to divide, manipulate and co-opt trade union leaders and workers’ organizations in order to neutralize any level of unified trade union response to this problem. To this must be added the fact that workers are defenceless at a legal level, because the national bodies for reporting and complaint (in matters of a constitutional, legal and social control nature) are subject to the Executive, and its rulings are contrary to the legitimate collective and individual demands of workers;

IS ALARMED BECAUSE: Political reform in Ecuador involves the establishment of a new model of the State, which is putting public goods and services in the hands of new national and transnational power groups, ignoring the trade unions and labour organizations as legitimate partners and representatives of the interests of workers, increasing the work and introducing a generational change and altering the profile of employment in the public sector, the impact of which on the life and continuation of the public sector trade union movement is still uncertain;

TAKING INTO ACCOUNT: The fact that the bodies of regulatory control of the International Labour Organization (ILO), such as the Committee on Freedom of Association and the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations have made observations to the Government of Ecuador systematically since 2009 concerning the removal and distortion of trade union rights in the public sector and have recommended constitutional changes together with changes in the secondary laws, as well as the need to establish a process of social dialogue in the public sector, to bring them into accordance with the fundamental principles of international labour law. There has been no positive government response to this;

RESOLVES AS FOLLOWS:

TO RAISE, before international public opinion, through the bodies of global governance, the international trade union movement, the media, and social networks, as well as to international NGOs and social organisations, our concern about the situation of the destructuring of public employment and public services in Ecuador;

TO CONFIRM our support and international solidarity as a fundamental principle of the labour movement for all men and women who work in the public sector, and all trade unions and workers’ organisations in the public sector, especially for our affiliates in Ecuador. This implies political and legal support at national and international level, in their legitimate struggle to defend their rights, and their organizations and to keep public services in public hands, and also to build trade union unity in the Ecuadorian public sector;

TO STRENGTHEN the complaints made before international bodies of the United Nations (UN), in particular to the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the Inter-American Human Rights System, through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to stop the defencelessness of the men and women working in the public sector, and to restore their rights;

TO RATIFY to the Government of Ecuador our commitment to provide proposals, from the men and women working in the public sector, for a genuine transformation of the State and strengthening of Public Services in full conformity with International Labour Standards and to build a fairer, more equitable and more democratic society in Ecuador, by establishing a genuine process of institutional, systematic and public bipartite dialogue with representatives of all trade unions and workers’ organisations in the public sector.

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