Brussels, 3 November 2010 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC is releasing today a report on core labour standards in Belize, coinciding with the Trade Policy Review of the country at the WTO. The report finds that internationally recognised labour standards are violated especially with regard to child labour and trade union rights.
The ITUC report finds that in Belize the rights to organise, collectively bargain and strike are recognised, but in practice, exercising these rights is limited, and there are significant limitations to trade union organising. The situation is worst in the country’s export processing zones (EPZs), where the employers refuse to recognise unions while the government fails to ensure the law is respected. As a result, there are no trade unions in the EPZs.
The report shows that women face discrimination in employment and in remuneration. Other groups that face discrimination in access to employment are persons who live with HIV/AIDS, homosexuals and members of the Mayas ethnic group.
Child prostitution is a problem, and many children work in informal activities, mainly in agriculture, but also in urban areas as street vendors. The ITUC report discovers that although traffickers of adults and children are prosecuted, the courts usually dismiss trafficking cases.
Brussels, 3 November 2010 (ITUC Online): The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reported today to the World Trade Organisation that “while Sri Lanka has ratified all eight of the International Labour Organization’s core conventions, it has largely failed to implement these conventions,” as noted by Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC.
In response to human rights violations in Sri Lanka, in August 2010 the European Union withdrew the trade preferences previously granted under its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). The United States Trade Representative is currently investigating whether workers’ rights violations warrant removing Sri Lanka from its own GSP scheme.
Sri Lankan employers routinely delay certification votes and fire union activists to prevent workers from joining unions. These problems are especially severe in Export Processing Zones, where the government has encouraged employers to recognise “employees’ councils” instead of trade unions. Even where collective bargaining occurs, the government can and does make strikes illegal by declaring any industry an “essential service.”
Sri Lankan law does not prohibit gender discrimination in the private sector and some industries still pay different wage rates to men and women doing the same job. While the law prohibits child labour and forced labour, both are prevalent in practice.
“As a first step toward maintaining normal access to its largest export markets, Sri Lanka must set out a clear timetable to reform its legislation and practice to meet its international commitments to uphold basic labour rights,” said Burrow.
The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 151 countries and territories and has 301 national affiliates.