SOLIDAR Mission at the 106th ILO Conference: Freedom of Association in Ecuador

The ILO’s 106th   International Labour Conference (ILC) is taking place in Geneva from 4 to 15 June. SOLIDAR has a long standing tradition of participating in the ILC, as it recognises the central role of this UN Agency in promoting social justice and peace through the adoption of international standards on social and labour policies and the monitoring of their full application by its members.

 This year’s SOLIDAR delegation (composed of FOS, Solidarité Laïque, and the Egyptian Center of Economic and Social Rights) is focussing on the work of the Conference’s Committee on the Application of the Standards (CAS).  It is interested specifically in Freedom of Association in two countries where SOLIDAR is active: 1) Egypt: with the aim of denouncing the ongoing repression of independent CSOs and trade unions through, among others, the recent adoption of very restrictive legislation. The case of Egypt will be discussed in the CAS on 14 June. 2) Ecuador: with the aim of putting pressure on the Government of Ecuador so that it changes its legislation that does not allow banana workers to form a sectoral trade union.

ILO ILC Week 1: calling for Freedom of Association in the banana sector in Ecuador

As indicated in the 2017 Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, Ecuadorian law requires an excessive number of workers (30) for the establishment of workers’ associations, enterprise committees or assemblies. As a consequence of this, the Agricultural Workers and Peasants Trade Union Association (ASTAC), a partner of SOLIDAR Belgian member FOS, has not been allowed to register as a trade union.

During the discussion of the case within the CAS, Silvana Cappuccio from the Italian Trade Union Confederation (CGIL), supported by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (OGB), the Luxemburg Trade Union Federation (OGBL), the Belgian Trade Unions (FGTB and CSC), and other workers’ representatives, drew the attention of the Committee to the specific violations of ILO Convention 87 on freedom of association regarding banana workers in Ecuador and especially the Agricultural Workers and Peasants Trade Union association, ASTAC.

In her intervention, Silvana Cappuccio called on the Government of Ecuador (GoE):

  • to take the necessary measures to amend its Labour Code in order to reduce the minimum number of members required to establish workers' associations and enterprise committees.
  • to set up an independent inquiry into the many anti-union actions which have taken place in Ecuador around the establishment of company trade unions and to undertake remedial action without delay, including those in relation to applications to register trade unions.

At the same time SOLIDAR and FOS asked the EU representatives present in the CAS to ensure a close monitoring of the GoE’s obligation to comply with the ILO’s  Freedom of Association Convention No. 87 in the framework of the free trade agreement that the EU and Ecuador have subscribed.




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