It works - Guatemala
“Now we are able to ask the more difficult questions, questions about the problems and labour conditions in the sugar sector. And investigate the growing palm oil sector", trade union leader Julio Coj says.
In 2019, three union organisations in Guatemala, supported by CNV Internationaal, launched an Observatory for Labour Rights. This Observatorio de Derechos (ODL) provides substantive support for negotiations with the government, companies, and at international levels.
“We have become stronger and more visible,”says Julio Coj, co-founder and leader of the UNSITRAGUA Histórica union.
Workers suffer serious repression and intimidation. “Our country in known across the globe to be among the top 5 countries where union work is life threatening. For many years we’ve been on the ILO’s list of the 25 countries who violate fundamental labour rights most.”
The Observatory collects information about the sectors and the themes that are important to workers.
“Now we are able to ask the more difficult questions,” Julio Coj says. “Questions about the problems and labour conditions in the sugar sector. And investigate the growing palm oil sector.
"The Observatory has made trade union work more effective. Union leaders are being taken more seriously."
“We work together and that makes our efforts stronger. We also have a synergy which comes from our collaboration with other human rights organisations.”
"We are now able to perform data research and provide arguments with support and documentation.”
The Observatory watches the progress of active Collective Bargaining Agreements in the country and how they are being followed through on. In addition, they look at the minimum wage, how it’s being implemented, and how it differs from a living wage. Individual workers can file complaints through the Observatory’s website. There, information can also be systematically collected. Our union leaders are trained in the areas of advocacy and communication strategies.
Palm oil and sugar cane
“Thanks to the Observatory’s support, in 2020 we were able to prevent the lowering of the minimum wage by providing well-documented arguments. In 2020 we also inhibited the ratification of a law on flexibilisation in the labour market wich would have increased the vulnerability of workers even more."
The Observatory has made trade union work more effective. Union leaders are being taken more seriously. Julio Coj says, “We work together and that makes our efforts stronger. We also have a synergy which comes from our collaboration with other human rights organisations.”
“Our collaboration with CNV Internationaal helps us get labour rights violations onto the international agenda, also in Europe.”
Since 2020, CNV Internationaal has been a member of the Domestic Advisory Group for the Association Agreement of Central between America and Europe. This DAG advises the European Commission regarding the implementation and follow-through of the agreements made in this trade agreement.