With freedom of association in Ecuador severely hampered, education union UNE is taking its demands to a higher level at the International Labour Conference in Geneva.
“ The registration of our Executive Board has been refused, the organisation has been legally dissolved by administrative decree, our offices ransacked and closed and the government has proceeded to sell the buildings - our members’ patrimony,” explained Rosana Palacios, National President of UNE. She was speaking as one of Education International’s (EI) members and delegates at 106th the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The case of Ecuador has been examined for violations of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association at the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards.
“ The government’s intention is clear- it is seeking to destroy the representative teachers’ organisation, and is promoting a parallel organisation called the Teachers’ Network”, she added.
UNE received widespread support. The dissolution of UNE was specifically raised by the government of Malta speaking on behalf of the European Union and other countries including Norway; and by the governments of Switzerland and Canada. The EU spokesperson referenced the recent accession of the government of Ecuador to the EU trade agreement with Colombia and Peru, which included clauses concerning respect for fundamental ILO Conventions.
Workers’ group members also supported UNE and raised the situation of violations of the rights of freedom of association of other public and private sector workers.
Rosana concluded her statement by expressing the hope that the recently inaugurated government of Lenin Moreno would reinstate the legal existence of the union, restore the confiscated properties and register the Executive Board without delay; as well as establishing a genuine dialogue with UNE with a view to agreeing a collective contract for public sector teachers.