Ei-iE

Ecuador: Time is pressing to halt the imposed dissolution of the teacher union UNE

published 10 August 2016 updated 11 August 2016

With Ecuador’s government due to release its decision on the Unión Nacional de Educadores’ legal dissolution at any moment, Education International reiterates its call to affiliates to take immediate action and support their Ecuadorian colleagues.

Education International (EI) urges its member organisations to call on the Ministry of Education of Ecuador to halt the legal proceedings against the teachers' union, respect the fundamental rights of education employees and their organisations, and withdraw, with immediate effect, the legal notice of dissolution served on the Unión Nacional de Educadores(UNE), EI’s affiliate in the country.

Affiliates can act now by:

• Mobilising membership to petition the Ecuadorian authorities through LabourStart;

• Sending an official letter of protest to the Minister of Education of Ecuador;

• Contacting the embassy of Ecuador in their country and submit a copy of the letter of protest, and request that they intercede with the Ecuadorian authorities; and

• Giving high visibility to this urgent appeal by recommending it to colleagues, union members and within their networks; post it on their websites and on all social media outlets.

“Education International reiterates its call on the Ecuadorian government to respect its international commitments as a signatory to International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 87 and 98, and to halt the legal proceedings against UNE, a move that violates the country’s international commitments,” EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen recalled.

ILO: “ A measure which should only occur in cases of extreme gravity”

“I wish to recall that the dissolution of trade union organisations is a measure which should only occur in cases of extreme gravity, and as a result of a court decision and as a last resort, after having exhausted other less drastic means,” reaffirmed the ILO Director General Guy Ryder, to whom  UNE and EI had appealed for a direct intervention, in a letter(in Spanish) dated 5 August addressed to the Ecuadorian Labour Minister Leonardo Berrezueta Carrión.

Ecuadorian teacher unionists also received support from other EI affiliates, such as the National Education Association from the USA and the Japan Teachers' Union.

The EI Latin America Regional Committee meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 10-12 August, will issue an urgent resolution in solidarity with Ecuadorian colleagues fighting for their right to organise.

Background

According to UNE, the Ecuadorian government is seeking to dissolve the union in retaliation for the public statements made at the ILO Conference and the UN Human Rights Committee this year explaining, in detail and with evidence, how the government is systematically violating freedom of association.

The moves to dissolve the UNE are ostensibly based on the implementation of a specific regulation, Decree 16, which concerns new and numerous requirements for the registration of non-profit organisations. In its 21 July letter, the Ministry of Education for the Metropolitan District of Quito informed UNE that the union would be dissolved according to Article 24 of Decree 739 for “failing to comply with the provisions of the Constitution, the law and this regulation or for undertaking actions which are prohibited”. Decree 739 is a regulation to implement an earlier Decree 16. However, in its mission to Ecuador in January 2015, the ILO Mission received explicit assurances from the Ministry of Labour that Decree 16 did not apply to trade unions. The education union had been given 15 days to refute the charges against it, without specifying what those charges might be.