Nordic Statement on Guatemala (Convention N° 87)

International Labour Conference, 104th session, Committee for the Application of Standards, June 8th 2015, individual case on Guatemala on Convention N° 87 concerning Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

Thank you, Chair.

I speak on behalf of the Governments of the Nordic countries - Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Freedom of Association is part of the foundation on which all other democratic rights and freedoms rest. It is essential that the activities of trade unions are not unjustifiably curtailed, and trade unionists should under no circumstance face harassment, intimidation and certainly not death.

We thank the Government of Guatemala for the information today.

However, we remain seriously concerned about the persistent threats experienced by trade unionists in Guatemala, demonstrating clear infringements of their Freedom of Association. We are deeply concerned that little tangible progress seems to have been made.

We discussed these matters as recently as during the 323rd session of the Governing Body of the ILO in March 2015, when the complaint case on Guatemala, submitted under article 26 of the ILO constitution, was considered. We, the Nordic countries, on that occasion supported the initial decision point to appoint a Commission of Inquiry.

We call once again on the Government of Guatemala to respect its commitments regarding individual freedom and public participation, the rule of law and legal protection. We urge the Government to take effective action when it comes to the investigation, prosecution and conviction of the perpetrators of the murders of trade unionists as well as other acts of violence. We expect that the Government will promptly take all necessary measures to ensure the protection of trade union officials and members.

Similarly, we urge the Government to adopt the necessary reforms to align national legislation with Convention 87. We need to see tangible and lasting results. A good place to start would be for the National Congress of Guatemala to adopt the urgently needed legislative reforms requested by the Committee of Experts.

Finally, we welcome the important role played by the ILO and the Country Office in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding.  However, we are concerned that despite these efforts, the Government has not taken sufficient advantage of this support. We strongly urge the Government of Guatemala to strengthen its efforts in the follow-up to its commitment to the road map and the Memorandum of Understanding, and we encourage it to deepen and strengthen its engagement with the ILO as well as with the social partners.