Since beginning to organise a union in December 2016, 22 workers from Transporte Noroccidental CIA. Ltda. have been progressively dismissed. The 22 workers are from the Amazonian region of the country where heavy machinery operators have been running long-range operations for more than 18 years.
“Being able to form or join the trade union of one’s choosing is a fundamental right for workers,” said BWI Latin America Regional Representative Nilton Freitas. “It is time that Transporte Noroccidental stopped these attacks on workers that are simply trying to improve their working conditions.”
After long-outstanding wage irregularities, a group of 150 of workers decided to form a union, presenting documentation to the labor authorities on 12 December 2016. The Ministry of Labor registered the request 6 days later. At this time main union leader, Víctor Hugo Obando Galván, was dismissed and the company began a campaign to discredit and intimidate others union leaders.
"We were contacted by the management and under coercion made to sign letters of retractions to belong to the union." recounted Obando Galván. The company then used this argument to file an administrative appeal by which it requested the Ministry of Labor refuse registration of the trade union. "This is an anti-union practice that employers in Ecuador often appeal to.”
With progress stalling with the Labour authorities, the workers have appealed to national organizations such as the Confederation of Public Sector Workers of Ecuador, CTSPE and the BWI to find support for an exit that will allow them to function as a union and reinstate the dismissed workers.
The BWI has now contacted the Ecuadorean Minister of Labor Dr Raúl Ledesma requesting the Ministry respect for workers’ fundamental rights and help find a way through the current impasse.