Education International
Education International

The ILO demands that Ecuador respect public workers’ human and trade union rights

published 18 November 2015 updated 24 November 2015

The Ecuadorian government must initiate immediate consultations with teachers and public servants unions to ensure that new laws respect freedom of association and collective bargaining rights, urges the International Labour Organisation.

During its November’s meeting, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on Freedom of Association issued its final recommendations to the Ecuadorian government with regard to a complaint lodged by the National Federation of Education Workers (UNE), affiliated to Education International (EI), and other public services unions working with Public Services International.

The trade unions alleged that the draft Act on the Civil Service, known in Spanish as LOSEP, violates international labour standards ratified by Ecuador. In addition, if adopted, draft amendments to the constitution would worsen the situation by excluding all public sector workers from the Labour Code, such as denying them collective bargaining rights. The trade unions also deplored that they have never been consulted and note that the adoption of LOSEP is yet another step towards the total dismantling of public sector workers’ collective rights initiated in 2007.

These strong final recommendations to the Ecuadorian government result from a long process. “It exemplifies the efforts EI can bring in supporting its member organisations, using UN supervisory mechanisms to demand reparation and respect of their rights,” stressed EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen.

Following the submission of the complaint to the Committee on Freedom of Association, allegations were also presented to the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions. The Committee of Experts requested a reform of the law and prompted a discussion at the ILO Conference Committee on the Application of Standards in 2014. The UNE President Rosana Palacios was part of the EI delegation and addressed the ILO Conference Committee. As a result of this discussion, an ILO mission visited Ecuador in January 2015.

At a general level, the various ILO Committees particularly regretted the absence in the LOSEP Act of protective provisions against anti-trade union discrimination and employers’ interference, in addition to all public servants being excluded from collective bargaining rights. In doing so, the ILO restated its jurisprudence ruling that collective bargaining applies to public servants who are not engaged in the State’s administration.