Guatemala Campaign news

23.09.2014

Unprecedented decision could be a game-changer for Guatemalan workers

It took over six years of a tortuous and hard fought legal battle, but Guatemalan workers have finally reasons to celebrate. Today the United States has agreed to take Guatemala to international arbitration for violating workers´ rights under the DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement). It is the very first time in history that one country has sought international arbitration against another for a violation of labour standards.

The dispute started back in April 2008, when...

06.05.2014

As news that Chiquita is investing in improving its port facilities in Guatemala confirms, the country’s rapidly expanded banana industry looks here to stay as one of the world’s top three exporters for years to come. Local industry reports that more than 30,000 workers are now employed in banana export production in rural communities earning wages higher than comparable sectors. Indeed some more progressive companies, conscious of rising expectations by consumers and therefore retailers, have made significant improvements in labour standards, however hours remain very long and take-home...

13.01.2014

Banana Link, in partnership with TUC Aid, is helping unions in banana plantations in Guatemala to build capacity to defend workers’ rights. Below is a report on recent progress and the latest successful activities organised under the joint initiative, published in the TUC “International Development Matters” e-bulletin this month:

“TUC Aid, in partnership with Banana Link, is building the capacity of trade unions in the banana plantations in Guatemala through a programme of training and education. The first training workshop...

25.06.2013

Guatemala has become the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists, according to the new ITUC Report on Violations of Trade Union Rights. Since 2007, at least 53 union leaders and representatives have been killed, and there have been numerous acts of attempted murder, torture, kidnapping, break-ins and death threats, which have created a culture of fear and violence where the exercise of trade union rights becomes impossible.

Activists in the banana sector have been disproportionately targeted...

27.10.2012

At the end of October the TUC hosted a visit to London by Noé Ramirez Portela, General Secretary of the Izabal Banana Workers' Union of Guatemala (SITRABI) - the oldest private sector union in the country, organising workers in Del Monte-owned banana plantations on the Caribbean coast.

Commenting on the visit TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
"Tragically Guatemala is now the second most dangerous country in the world in which to be a trade unionist and last year SITRABI was the union hardest hit by violence.

"Noé was elected General Secretary of SITRABI in...

04.09.2012

Could it be that, as we approach the end of seven thousand years of the now-famous Mayan calendar, a new age of dialogue and good industrial relations could be under construction in an industry and a country plagued by decades of conflict and violence?

The Guatemalan banana industry, born in the early years of the 20th century to supply the markets of the cities of the South and East Coast of the United States, entered the 21st century in a phase of rapid expansion. Since 2007, the country has...

04.07.2012

Guatemala is among the worst violators of labour rights in the world today. Workers are routinely fired for asserting their rights at work, and increasingly, they are threatened, tortured or murdered.

This is why workers from around the world now filed a complaint with the ILO urging Guatemala to respect the Right of Freedom of Association.

For over 20 years, Guatemalan workers have attempted to use the ILO to vindicate the rights which were elusive at home. Despite increasingly stronger condemnations by the ILO, and numerous technical missions, Guatemalan workers saw no...

22.05.2012

Protection has been restored for SITRABI General Secretary Noe Ramirez with a commitment from the government to establish a ‘security perimeter’ for other SITRABI leaders.

Members of the Executive Committee of SITRABI are the victims of intimidation and harassment and have therefore been demanding that they and their General Secretary, Noe Ramirez, have protection. In 2007 Noe’s brother, a SITRABI union leader, was murdered since which time the violence against SITRABI activists has escalated. In 2011 six members and ex-members of the banana workers’ union SITRABI were killed...

29.03.2012

The Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation has today approved a report from its Committee on Freedom of Association examining a number of complaints from Guatemalan trade unions concerning violations of fundamental labour rights.

"The Committee expresses its deep concern over [...] the numerous murders, murder attempts, acts of aggression, death threats, kidnappings, harassment and initimidation of trade union leaders and members, as well as over the allegations concerning the elaboration of black lists and the climate of total impunity."

The...

13.02.2012

Miguel Angel González Ramírez, a member of the Izabal banana workers’ union SITRABI, was killed on 5 February. He was shot several times whilst carrying his young child in his arms.

"This is yet another deadly crime against banana workers and, as such, against the Guatemalan trade union movement as a whole. President Otto Perez Molina must honour the responsibility he has to protect the workers targeted by constant violence,“ insisted ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The murder took place in the midst of a battle being waged by SITRABI following the refusal...