For several years the State of Guatemala has attempted to take the international community by surprise by at some point informing the International labor Organization that the Labor Code had been reformed, in order to admit the constitution of union industries.
In practical terms, the reform that was introduced to the Labor Code, specifically to section c) of its article 215, has promoted the Ministry of Labor and Social Prevision to prevent the constitution of industrial unions, violating paragraph two of article eight in ILO’s agreement 87, argumenting the need of an irrational number of workers to create the union. This, dispite article 215 of the Labor Code has no other ends than establishing a sub-classification on the nature of unions, and not precisely to stipulate the number needed to create them.
As a consequence of this, the General Labor Direction of the Ministry of Labor and Social Prevision has denied the inscription of the CENTRAL UNION OF WORKERS OF THE MAQUILA INDUSTRY OF GUATEMALA “CENTRIMAG” (a member of MSICG) with the argument that the union requires at least 60,000 workers to be constituted as an industry union; this decission has been contested through a reversal appeal, which must be solved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Prevision.
To the irrational number of workers whose gathering is requested by the Ministry of Labor and Social Prevision to perform the constitution act of a maquila industry union, we must add the obstacles that are frequently imposed by the General Labor Direction and without which the unions are not registered; among them the demand of modifying their regulations, the repetition of the constitution act and the union giving up its right to negotiate collectively, among many other criteria applied in open violation to union freedom.
Today, MSICG has started another important battle for the defense of union freedom in Guatemala, and it has presented a general partial inconstitutionality appeal to section c) of article 215 of the Labor Code before the Constitutionality Court, specifically regarding the phrase though which the practical prohibition of the birth and development of industrial unionism in Guatemala has been issued, so that this phrase is taken out of the juridical order.
MSICG trusts that the Court of Constitutionality will apply adequately the Guatemalan constitutional block, among which is ILO’s Agreement 87, thus complying with its role of safeguarding the Guatemalan constitutional guarantees, and in this particular case union freedom.
Guatemala, August 13th 2013.
UNION, INDIGENOUS AND PEASANT MOVEMENT