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lunes, julio 18, 2005

Documents on Venezuela from the International Labor Conference

Below is the discussion on Venezuela held by the Committee on Standards during last month’s International Labor Conference. The complete Committee report is at http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc93/pdf/pr-22-3.pdf (caution: large file!)

Convention No. 87: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Rights to Organise, 1948

BOLIVARIAN REPUBLIC OF VENEZUELA (ratification: 1982). A Government representative noted that once again his Government was appearing before the Committee to provide information on the situation with regard to the application of Convention No. 87, as it had repeatedly done since 1991[sic], when Hugo Chavez took office as President and initiated sustained and rapid changes in the political, social and economic fields intended to combat poverty, injustice and exclusion and to promote forms of direct and indirect participation by the population in public affairs

In the period between 1999 and 2004, some 410 trade union organizations had been established on average every year, compared with the period between 1994 and 1998 when the number of trade union organizations registered had only reached 229. Moreover, in 2003, a total of 535 collective agreements had been deposited, with the number rising to 834 in 2004.
He said that these figures were available on the web site of the Ministry of Labour

He maintained that, despite the clear intention of his Government to provide information, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had once again been included in the list of cases to be examined by the Committee, which bore witness to the continuation of significant political interest which, far from seeking social progress, had more to do with the past era of privilege and prerogative

He said that his Government had agreed to receive two direct contacts missions in only a few years, the first in May 2002 and the second in October 2004. With regard to the reform of the Basic Labour Act, the first draft formulated by the Ministry of Labour had taken on board all of the recommendations of the Committee of Experts, which dated from 1991. This draft text had already been approved at its first reading by the National Assembly and established a system of trade union elections which accorded the possibility for organizations to accept voluntarily the technical assistance and support of the National Electoral Board. This text had been supported by five trade union confederations (UNT, CTV, CUTV, CGT and CODESA) after a dialogue and consultation meeting convened by the Ministry of Labour in November 2004. He added that a more recent version of the draft text, which he described as being of a more progressive nature, increased the number of trade union leaders covered by trade union protection, strengthened the special protection measures and explicitly envisaged the re-election of trade union leaders, as had been occurring in practice

In view of the great importance of the reform for the country as a whole, the National Assembly had informed the Supreme Court of Justice of the need to extend the period originally set to reform the legislation prior to December 2004. This was justified by the need to extend the consultations with the social partners, particularly at the request of employers’ associations, and especially FEDECAMARAS which, since October 2004, and in letters sent by its President on 4 and 23 May this year, had requested the broadening of consultations. On 23 May 2005 a delegation of FEDECARAMAS which included among others Mr. Alexis Garridosoto, member of the employers’ delegation to this 93rd Session of the Conference, had met with the President of the subcommittee for labour and trade union complaints of the National Parliament. The representatives of FEDEINDUSTRIA, CONFAGAN and EMPREVEN had also petitioned for the same reason. The request for broader consultations was based on the decision to undertake an overall reform of the labour legislation, instead of the piecemeal reform originally planned, which was to have been limited to aspects related to freedom of association and collective bargaining. He added that, while dialogue was going ahead, the National Assembly was also making progress in the reform of social security legislation, and particularly the laws respecting occupational safety and health and employment insurance

The Occupational Safety and Health Act had been adopted the previous day

He indicated that, in relation to the alleged refusal to recognize the Executive Committee of the CTV, the Social Appeals Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice had ruled in June 2004 that those who claimed to be the leaders of the Confederation were not trade union leaders and had ruled that the CTV did not fulfil the condition of being the majority or most representative trade union organization. The action leading to this judicial ruling had not been initiated by the Government, but by persons who considered themselves to be members of the Executive Committee of the CTV. In January 2005, the National Electoral Council had declared the CTV election to be void on the grounds of the absence of reports confirming the results as well as the issuing of reports by a non-existent electoral committee, among other electoral irregularities, as a result of which the Executive Committee was neither elected, legal nor statutory. Despite these rulings, the Ministry of Labour had convened the CTV as an institution. This was a de facto approach which had enabled it to attend various labour and social dialogue forums

Various minutes produced during the meetings and the corresponding invitations to social dialogue, confirmed this situation of openness by the Government in this regard

He indicated that, on the subject of dialogue with the social partners, the report of the Committee of Experts showed its limitations by minimizing the impact of the consultations held on such subjects as minimum wages, stability of employment, labour reform and other sectoral matters. In previous years, these consultations, which the Government had never failed to carry out, had taken place in a context marked by polarization and the use of trade union representation as an instrument for the promotion of political partisan, including personal, projects which had nothing to do with the interests of the nation and the majority of the population

It was clear that employers affiliated to FEDECAMARAS, for example, in the automobile, chemical, pharmaceutical and textile branches, were participating in the tripartite sectoral social dialogue forums

Since October 2004, when it had obtained 70 per cent support in the popular vote, the Government had called upon those actors which where excluding themselves from social dialogue. Since that date, the conviction had grown that democratic social dialogue could not exclude any sector. He referred in detail to the various meetings held with employers’ and workers’ organizations over the past eight months, including one concerning the composition of the delegation to the 93rd Session of the International Labour Conference. Even the President of FEDECAMARAS had been present at some of those meetings

The numerous working meetings held with trade union organizations had been supplemented by consultations carried out by the Ministry of Labour in the context of the Andean Community and the ILO on combating child labour, labour migration and occupational safety and health, among other subjects

With regard to the concerns expressed by the IOE and the ICFTU, he indicated that his Government had provided detailed information to both the Governing Body and the Committee on Freedom of Association and had indicated its position on the conclusions and recommendations adopted by the Committee on Freedom of Association, which in his view went beyond the scope of its competence and mandate, and in other cases contained inaccuracies or mistaken evaluations of the events which had occurred. In accordance with the recommendations of various regional groups, including that of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC), he considered that it was necessary to avoid duplication in the use of ILO procedures, which gave rise to unnecessary costs and could lead to contradictory outcomes or conclusions. He therefore considered that the information requested was already available to the ILO

In conclusion, he said that his Government had achieved sustained progress in the matters under examination and that it was therefore important to allow it and help it to continue its work, as it had been doing with all the social partners, in accordance with the recommendations made by the Committee of Experts. It was the responsibility of the Committee of Experts to verify and evaluate the progress achieved in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela over the rest of 2005

The Employer members expressed appreciation of the presence of the Government representative and the moderate tone adopted in the discussion. The heart of the present case, in their view, concerned the application of Article 3 of the Convention, which provided that “workers’ and employers’ organisations shall have the right to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organise their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes”, and that “the public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof”. However, the Employer members did not believe that the Government understood the meaning of this provision

They recalled that the present case concerned the interference by the Government in the activities of representative organizations of employers and workers and, in particular, the national employers’ organization FEDECAMARAS. The interference by the Government had even affected the work of the present Conference through its meddling in the composition of the Employers’ group. Although the Government representative had expressed approval of the direct contacts mission, referred to also in the comments of the Committee of Experts, he had given no indication of any intention by the Government to strengthen bipartite or tripartite dialogue in the country. The CTV, a workers’ organization and FEDECAMARAS, the sole national representative employers’ organization, were both excluded from the social dialogue forum in the country and the Government was failing to respect the criteria of representativeness

With regard to the reforms to the labour legislation, the Employer members understood that, while some 50 laws had been adopted on workplace matters, none of them had been formulated in consultation with representative organizations of the social partners

The serious nature of the situation was illustrated by the fact that the former President of FEDECAMARAS had been placed under arrest and was now in exile. In view of the gravity of the situation, the IOE had found it necessary to intervene in the context of cases brought before the Committee on Freedom of Association. The Government representative claimed that the Government was prepared to provide further information and called for the progress achieved to be acknowledged

What the Employer members wished to see was concrete action demonstrating the will of the Government to comply with its obligations under the Convention. Expertise was clearly required if the situation was to be improved. The Employer members therefore proposed that the Government should consider inviting the Chairperson of the Committee on Freedom of Association to visit the country, verify the national situation and provide assistance in the modification of the employment legislation to bring it into conformity with the requirements of the Convention. Alternatively, the Government could accept the visit of a tripartite mission for the same purpose. The Employer members emphasized that the time for fact-finding was now over. Action was needed, and it was needed now

The Worker members thanked the Government representative for the replies provided orally and those colleagues in the Workers’ group who had refrained from intervening on the case in view of its geopolitical implications and the choices made concerning social matters and development

The last discussion by the Committee of the case concerning the application of Convention No. 87 by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had taken place in a climate of political and social instability, marked in particular by an attempted coup d’état, which had given rise to major tension in the world of work. The Workers’ group had then taken note of the draft reform of the law that was intended to respond to the multiple issues relating to violations of the Convention raised previously

They had also expressed their concern relating to the cases examined by the Committee on Freedom of Association and had requested the Government not to interfere in the internal affairs of workers’ and employers’ organizations. In addition, they had requested the Government to recognize the Executive Committee of the Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CTV). A return to dialogue with the social partners had therefore been requested

With regard to the observation made by the Committee of Experts this year, it should be noted with interest that the direct contacts mission requested by the Conference Committee had taken place in October 2004, and had shown that the Government had submitted a Bill to amend the Basic Labour Act to the National Assembly, accompanied by a schedule for its adoption

Once adopted, the Bill would resolve a series of important obstacles which had been hindering the application of Convention No. 87 for over ten years. The Committee of Experts had therefore included this case in the list of cases of progress, although it had not noted it “with interest”

Although progress had been achieved in relation to the legislation, it had to be noted that, with respect to the refusal to recognize the Executive Committee of the CTV and also with regard to social dialogue with the social partners, no tangible and convincing progress had been made, despite the Government’s commitment to give effect to the points raised in the discussion in 2004

The Worker members called for the Convention to be given effect in law and in practice. They therefore hoped that in its next report the Government would provide detailed information on the progress achieved in this regard

A Worker member of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela said that since 1999 the trade union movement in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had been providing evidence to the ILO Conference that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela was systematically violating Conventions Nos. 87 and 98. For five consecutive years, the various ILO supervisory bodies had concluded, in special paragraphs and through two direct contacts missions, that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela did not afford the necessary guarantees for the exercise of freedom of association, and he considered that the Committee should be firm in this case. He recalled that the Committee on Freedom of Association had received over 50 complaints on this subject. Despite the repeated requests for the Government to remedy these violations, the Venezuelan authorities had ignored the recommendations of the ILO supervisory bodies. In his view, this was illustrated by several facts. The Government representative had given assurances to the Committee that trade union elections would not continue to be managed by the State, but this commitment had not been fulfilled. On the contrary, the National Electoral Council had declared the Executive Committee of the CTV illegal. The Government representative had assured the Committee that the CTV and its Executive Committee would be recognized, but had not given effect to this undertaking. He had also promised to renew social dialogue with all the social partners but, as noted by the direct contacts mission in 2004, this had not occurred. It had not even been possible to organize a tripartite meeting during the direct contacts mission. He called for the report of the mission to be distributed to the members of the Committee. In view of the repeated violations of Conventions, he requested the Committee to take appropriate measures to resolve the situation, which constituted a violation of freedom of association in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and to reestablish social dialogue. He concluded by saying that if the problems could be discussed by all the parties, this would benefit his country

Another Worker member of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela said that the National Union of Venezuelan Workers (UNT) had been created in response to the position taken by those who had led the trade union movement for over 40 years and who had later formed an alliance with the employers, which had even led to a coup d’état in April 2002. She added that the dictatorship headed by the employers’ leadership had been short-lived. The people had been mobilized, returning to Venezuela the leading role of participatory democracy. An ICFTU mission which had visited the country in August 2004 had witnessed the freedom and massive participation of the people in the referendum of confirmation

She asserted that the UNT was a central organization that was independent of the Government, employers and political parties, and was composed of many former members of the CTV who had distanced themselves from that union following its alliance with FEDECAMARAS

She added that the UNT would hold elections to elect its leaders and its various bodies at the end of October this year. Asserting that it had been registered in accordance with all the requirements, she felt that the direct contacts mission which had visited her country in 2004 had shown bias and misinformation, as its report had referred to the UNT as being “recognized, despite having an unelected Executive Committee”

She indicated that the legitimacy of the UNT came from its participation in the negotiation of collective agreements and in large enterprises in the public and private sectors, where it had taken over in most cases from the CTV. She made reference to the repeated statement in the Committee’s report that the CTV was the most representative central organization based on the fact that it had represented 68.73 per cent of union members in 2001. She indicated, however, that these figures had surely been obtained from the data of the National Electoral Council and did not take into account the new trade union situation. She indicated that trade union elections were being organized in the normal manner and that the National Electoral Council only took action at the demand of workers’ organizations which so requested and that an example of this was provided by the elections of FETRACONSTRUCCION, a federation led by Manuel Cora who had just concluded his electoral campaign without the supervision of the National Electoral Council

In relation to the legislative reforms, she indicated that in her country, in addition to the Basic Labour Act, several laws were being examined, including laws respecting occupational social security schemes, the working environment, housing, health and workers’ participation in enterprise management

She said that, following the coup d’état, four workers, other than the CTV leaders, had been convened on the Presidential Commission for National Dialogue and that she had participated in that dialogue

Together with employers from the pharmaceutical sector, who were members of FEDECAMARAS, and the Government, they had succeeded in formulating policies to balance employment and increase the production of generic drugs

She added that the Venezuelan citizens and in particular the workers, had demanded that the Government put an end to impunity and that the organs of the state (Judiciary, Attorney General of the Republic) acted in accordance with the law in order to avoid hidden agents who acted against the interests of the Venezuelan people

She emphasized that the UNT was working to consolidate dialogue, whereas the CTV and FEDECAMARAS were carrying out a boycott as part of their subversive plans, but that they had agreed to enter into dialogue now that the coup d’état had failed. The sabotage of the oil industry and the coup d’état had caused deaths, as well as economic and structural losses. She expressed her opposition to a complaint submitted by FEDECAMARAS and thanked the Worker members of Colombia, Cuba and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, among others, for their support

The Government member of Cuba thanked the Government representative for the information provided and said that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had taken on the responsibility of reforming the labour legislation, as recommended by the Committee of Experts, and that these reforms had already been approved in their first reading. The increase in the number of collective agreements, the establishment of new trade unions and the free exercise of the right to strike were evidence that Convention No. 87 was being applied in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

He said that the Supreme Court of Justice had indicated that it was impossible to legally determine that the CTV was the most representative trade union, and that the National Electoral Council had voided the CTV’s elections on the grounds of lack of transparency. Nevertheless, the Government had continued to invite it to tripartite dialogue forums, at both the national and international levels. FEDECAMARAS had also participated in the various dialogue forums

The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had also accepted the two direct contacts missions, thus opening the door for technical cooperation. He recalled that the report of the Committee of Experts had noted the progress made. He asserted that this case was a clear indication that political criteria were continuing to prevail in the inclusion of the case of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the Committee’s debates, as the country had already adopted the necessary measures to give effect to the Convention. He therefore considered that this case should no longer be included in the list of cases to be examined by the Conference Committee in future

The Government member of the United States noted that, in reviewing this case again this year, the Committee of Experts had benefited greatly from the report of the direct contacts mission that had visited the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in October 2004. According to the mission’s report, the Government had submitted a number of amendments to the Basic Labour Act which would have the effect of bringing it more closely into line with Convention No. 87. This was a welcome development and demonstrated the value of such missions and the important role they played in the ILO’s supervisory system. Too often, governments viewed such missions as punitive in nature and refused to cooperate with them. As this case made clear, however, direct contacts missions were of a constructive nature, and governments would be well advised to receive them and cooperate fully with them when the supervisory bodies so recommended

Unfortunately, the rest of the information in the report of the Committee of Experts was not so encouraging. The report referred to the violation of the right of the CTV to elect its representatives in full freedom and to organize its activities, discrimination by the authorities against the CTV’s Executive Committee, and the Government’s refusal to engage in meaningful social dialogue with the CTV and FEDECAMARAS

According to the Committee of Experts, practices such as these violated the freedom of choice of Venezuelan workers and employers. The Committee of Experts rightly pointed out that equality of treatment between organizations had to be ensured if the principle of free choice enshrined in the Convention was to be upheld

The Government member of the Islamic Republic of Iran said that, following a series of crises in recent years, the reforms made by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the fields of the economy and legislation were an indication of its good intentions and of the determination of the Government to overcome the obstacles that it was facing

Undoubtedly, the economic and legislative reforms that were being carried out would create appropriate conditions for the achievement of democracy and the promotion of tripartism, the right to organize, freedom dom of association and collective bargaining. ILO technical cooperation and assistance would be an effective tool to accelerate the positive action taken by the Government with a view to removing the obstacles to the full application of Conventions Nos. 87 and 98

The Government member of Panama said that he had listened very carefully to the Government representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and that emphasis should be placed on the efforts made by the country to give effect to the provisions of Convention No 87. He also emphasized the willingness of the Government to collaborate in providing information on the progress achieved, in the form of the Basic Labour Act, which was currently undergoing its first reading in Parliament. In his view, as a result of the outcome of the two direct contacts missions, it would now be sufficient to return to the usual mechanism of supplying reports to supervise the application of the Convention

The Government member of Paraguay, speaking on behalf of MERCOSUR, said that the Government had shown positive signs of its willingness to give effect to the provisions of the Convention. He considered some of the signals of the extension of social dialogue to be encouraging, such as the inclusion of the CTV in the ILO delegation, the consultation of the CTV regarding the documents under discussion in the Andean region and the participation of the CTV in the national dialogue forums established to discuss these issues

It was important to emphasize that the comments made in previous years by the Committee of Experts with a view to advancing legislative reform in respect of freedom of association had been included by the Government in the Bill which was being examined by the National Assembly, and which had been the subject of tripartite debate and consultation

He recalled that the Government had accepted visits by two direct contacts missions, which had observed the situation in the country and endorsed the Government’s actions as being in harmony with ILO objectives, principles and standards

The Government member of Egypt said that she had listened with interest to the Government representative, who had described the positive measures taken to improve the rights and freedoms of trade unions set out in the new draft Labour Code. She called on the Committee to take into consideration the efforts made by the Government and to provide it with the necessary technical support and assistance

The Government member of China thanked the Government representative for the information provided and said that she had listened with great interest to the discussion concerning the implementation of the Convention. She noted that the Government had made remarkable achievements in reforming its legislation and in promoting social dialogue

These successes demonstrated the Government’s willingness to cooperate with the social partners. The achievements of the Government needed to be acknowledged and she hoped that the ILO would provide technical support to assist developing countries such as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to improve their social and labour situation

The Government representative thanked most of those who had participated in the discussion for recognizing that his country had made progress in giving effect to its democratic commitment to achieve greater participation and inclusive social dialogue, with particular emphasis on the representativity of the major actors. Social dialogue was now no longer a monopoly for those who had been able to make their voices heard in the past. Organized workers and employers, who had not been heard for decades, were now participating in the development of public policies which took into account their needs and interests

The two direct contacts missions sent by the ILO had given rise to a dynamic of meetings and forums in which all the social partners had participated, including representatives of FEDECAMARAS and the CTV, on subjects which included labour policy. Nevertheless, to those who were now calling for social dialogue, he wished to say that back home they were attending meetings in which such burning topics were being discussed as wages and food programmes for workers, labour reforms, labour immobility, etc. His Government, which sought coherence between promises and practice, invited the Executive Committee of the CTV, for example, to progress from words to action and to enter into collaboration and to ensure coherence between what they asserted and did in the country and what they denounced in Geneva. For example, it would have been important that Mr Cora appear at the social dialogue meetings convened by the Ministry of Labour, which he never attended, instead of using this scenario in order to misinform the public on what really happened. On the subject of trade union elections, he emphasized that the National Electoral Council, which had been so heavily criticized, was an independent and autonomous body which commanded the respect of the executive, legislative and judicial authorities, and of the Comptroller General’s Office of the Republic and the other organs of popular power. In his country, there was no discrimination against trade unions and none of them received preferential treatment

It was necessary to overcome the conflictual political situation affecting the country. Nevertheless, his Government, which had recognized all the social partners, needed to take into account the fact that it governed in the interests of everyone and did not renounce its duty to govern for the majority, and particularly of those categories which had up to now been excluded from citizen’s participation as well as the just distribution of the petroleum income and the rest of the country’s wealth, thus overcoming the injustices of the post. Social dialogue needed to be inclusive, participative and an agent of transformation

The reform of the Basic Labour Act, which had been formulated with the technical assistance of the ILO Standards Department, was currently being examined by the National Assembly with the participation of FEDECAMARAS. This reform would have to be the subject of consultation with the workers and of their approval. Finally, he emphasized that his Government would continue to endeavour to follow up the recommendations made by the Office when these were relevant. It was all the more convinced that it was necessary to make progress in legislative reform towards a model of society which established a new value for the relationship between capital and labour in which labour would be appreciated from the point of view of solidarity and cooperation on the basis of the wealth it generated, so as to achieve the wealth’s just distribution

This reform, which had been debated for two years, and which included the most recent standards on occupational safety and health within a context of social dialogue, was now nearly complete. It should not be forgotten that the previous legislation had required six years’ discussion

His Government undertook to transmit to the Office in due time the outcome of a process which would benefit the great majority of workers in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. He confirmed that the Government would remain within the regular supervisory mechanism through the presentation of the steps and progress made during the rest of the year, to the Committee of Experts

The Employer members thanked the Government representative for his reply. They expressed a certain surprise at the moderation of the position expressed by the Worker members in the discussion of this case, particularly in view of the reference made by the Committee of Experts to the comments of the ICFTU and the IOE, as well as the detention order issued against the President of the CTV and the measures taken against leaders and members of employers’ and workers’ organizations. Such a situation would normally be condemned outright by the Workers’ group, as a result of the violation of the fundamental principle of free and independent organizations. Yet, few complaints had been heard with regard to the failings of the consultation in process undertaken by the Government and its failure to implement Convention No. 87. The Employer members wished to put on record their condemnation of the arbitrary measures adopted against members of workers’ and employers’ organizations. Indeed, the current President of FEDECAMARAS could not leave the country without the permission of the authorities, which was a clear violation of the principles of freedom of association

In view of the importance of the case, the Employer members wished to take the unusual step of proposing a set of conclusions for the Committee. They noted in this respect that changes and amendments to the conclusions proposed by the Chairperson always seemed to come from the Worker members. In a democratic body, they felt that the Employer members should be able to contribute in the same way. Their proposed conclusions were as follows:

The Committee noted the oral information provided by the Government representative and the discussion that followed. The Committee noted with deep concern that the problems raised by the Committee of Experts referred to questions relating to the basic right of workers and employers to form organizations of their own choosing, the right of these organizations to elect their representatives in full freedom, to draw up their rules without interference by the authorities and to organize their activities

The Committee also noted the emphasis placed in the report of the direct contacts mission on the fact that for years the Executive Committee of the CTV had not been recognized in law by the Government and in practice had only been recognized for very limited purposes. The Committee noted that the current situation had prevented the Executive Committee from the normal exercise of its rights and had seriously prejudiced it. The Committee also noted that the CTV Executive Committee, which was the product of an election process, was only recognized in practice by the Government for very limited purposes, while having the Executive Body of the UNT central organization was recognized, despite not having an Executive Body adopted through an electoral process

The Committee considered that the above situation, and in particular the excessive delay by the National Electoral Council, had gravely prejudiced the Executive Committee of the CTV and its member organizations, thereby violating the right of this organization to elect it representatives in full freedom and to organize its activities, as recognized in Article 3 of the Convention, as well as the principles of due process. The Committee once again urged the Government to recognize the Executive Committee of the CTV for all purposes immediately

The Committee once again urged the Government to renew dialogue with the social partners. The Committee noted that, according to the report of the direct contacts mission, the executive bodies of the CTV and FEDECAMARAS had not participated in social dialogue in the broadest sense of the term, particularly in sectoral dialogue

The Committee also noted that, according to the report of the direct contacts mission, in response to the availability for dialogue demonstrated unequivocally by the central and regional executive bodies of FEDERCAMARAS (the sole confederation of employers in the country and which was at the highest level of representativeness) and the Executive Committee of the CTV, the Minister of Labour had not given indications of wishing to promote or intensify bipartite or tripartite dialogue on a solid basis with these bodies: in practice, such dialogue had practically not existed for years and only took place in an episodic manner

The Committee noted with regret that the information contained in the report of the direct contacts mission showed that representatives of the three minority workers’ confederations did participate in social dialogue forums, alongside a workers’ confederation which had a provisional executive board, and that on the employers side three less representative organizations participated which were not members of the employers’ confederation FEDECAMARAS

The Committee considered that strict criteria of representativeness were not respected in those sectoral dialogue forums and that the executive boards of the central organizations CTV and FEDECAMARAS were excluded from such forums, and therefore suffered discrimination

The Committee further noted that, according to the report of the direct contacts mission, effective consultations between the Government and the executive bodies of the CTV and FEDECAMARAS on labour issues had been limited and had been of an exceptional nature. The Committee also urged the Government, without delay, to convene periodically the National Tripartite Commission and to examine in this context, together with the social partners, the laws and the order which had been adopted without tripartite consultation

The Committee emphasized the importance of the Government and the most representative organizations of employers and workers engaging in in-depth dialogue on matters of common interest. The Committee requested the Government to keep it informed of any form of social dialogue with the CTV and FEDECAMARAS and their member organizations and to ensure equality of treatment between organizations

The Committee deeply deplored the arrest of officials of employers’ and workers’ organizations and emphasized that the arrest of these officials for reasons linked to actions relating to legitimate demands was a serious restriction of their rights and a violation of freedom of association, and it requested the Government to respect this principle. The Committee urged the Government to terminate immediately the judicial proceedings against the President of FEDECAMARAS, Mr. Carlos Fernandez, and that the detention order against the President of the CTV, Mr. Carlos Ortega, be lifted. It requested the Government to provide information on the detention orders issued against six trade union leaders or members of UNAPETROL and that the restrictions on the movement of the current President fo FEDECARAMAS, Mrs Albis Munõz be lifted

The Committee urged the Government to initiate contacts with the members of UNAPETROL in order to find a solution to the problem of registering the union. It also requested the Government to initiate negotiations with the most representative workers’ confederations to find a solution to the dismissal of 18,000 workers from the PDVSA enterprise and to institute an independent investigation without delay into instances of alleged acts of violence against trade unionists

The Committee requested the Government to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee on Freedom of Association so as to secure the full application of Convention No. 87. The Committee requested the Government to accept a high-level tripartite mission, which would include a meeting with the Government and with employers’ and workers’ organizations, placing particular emphasis on all matters relating to the application of Convention No. 87 in law and practice


The Worker members, in response to the conclusions proposed by the Employer members, noted that it was not the usual practice of the Committee for a group to propose conclusions in place of the Chairperson. It was for the Chairperson alone to propose the conclusions and for the groups to make comments, as appropriate

They said that the case of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had been dealt with by the Committee on several occasions in recent years and that real and tangible progress, albeit insufficient, had been noted

They added that the Government was not solely responsible for the climate of division and antagonism that the country was experiencing, considering that it had made real efforts, even if much remained to be done, particularly with regard to social dialogue. They called upon the Government to continue to seek ILO technical assistance to resolve the issues raised in relation to the application of the Convention


The Committee took note of the statement made by the Government representative and of the discussion that followed. The Committee observed with concern that the problems raised by the Committee of Experts, which also reflected the comments made by the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the International Organization of Employers (IOE), included: legal restrictions upon the right of workers and employers to form organizations of their own choosing; the right of these organizations to draw up their rules and elect their officers freely and the right to organize their activities, without interference by the public authorities; the refusal to recognize the executive committee of the CTV; the exclusion of certain workers’ and employers’ organizations in social dialogue to the disadvantage of the Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CTV) and FEDECAMARAS; the detention order of leaders, in particular Mr. Carlos Fernández; and restrictions of movement on Ms. Albis Muñoz. The Committee further noted the results of the direct contacts mission that took place in October 2004

The Committee took note of the statement of the Government representative according to which a draft law adopted in the first reading of the National Assembly had been the subject of consultations and the Government expected its adoption in the near future

It also noted that the Government had included FEDECAMARAS and the CTV in the framework of inclusive dialogue without exclusion of any social partners. Moreover, the Government pointed out that the National Electoral Council had declared the electoral process of the CTV null and void and that the Government had already replied to the Committee on Freedom of Association on the questions raised by the ICFTU and the IOE

Noting that the Bill submitted to the National Assembly aimed at resolving problems of a legislative nature and mentioned by the Committee of Experts had still not been adopted in the second reading, the Committee requested the Government to take measures to accelerate its passing and to carry out full and meaningful consultations with the most representative workers’ and employers’ organizations. The Committee observed insufficiencies in the social dialogue and the need for progress to be made in this respect

The Committee underlined the importance of full respect for Article 3 of the Convention and that the public authorities should not interfere in the elections and activities of workers’and employers’ organizations. It took note of the Government’s statement that recourse to the National Electoral Council was optional for occupational organizations and urged the Government to fully respect this commitment

The Committee invited the Government to lift immediately the restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed on the leaders of FEDECAMARAS, Mr. Carlos Fernández and Ms. Albis Muñoz

The Committee requested the Government to send a complete and detailed report to the Committee of Experts on all the pending questions for examination at its next meeting and hoped that it would be able to note the progress awaited and, concretely, that the national law and practice would be brought into full conformity with the Convention

The Committee invited the Government to request a high-level technical assistance of the Office for the abovementioned objectives, with particular emphasis on questions concerning interference with the autonomy of workers’ and employers’organizations


The Employer members referred to their previous statements. In the face of the persistence of the problems which remained pending without being resolved, they could anticipate that it would be eventually necessary to discuss the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela again the following year. The Employer members would prefer to send a high-level Governing Body tripartite mission to visit the country in order to find solutions conducive to the full application of the Convention and make progress in the sense of the conclusions which had been agreed upon

The Government representative spoke on the obstacles that the Employer members’ spokesperson had generated during the debate, interfering with the right of workers and governments, who certainly constituted the majority, to have their own opinion. Such obstacles affected the methods of work and the constructive spirit which had prevailed in the debate until then

Moreover, he objected to the statement made by the Employer members’ spokesperson that Venezuela should be included in the list of individual cases for examination by the Conference Committee the coming year, which demonstrated the negative predisposition of this spokesperson who wanted to turn the Conference Committee against his country

With regard to the individual persons mentioned in the conclusions, these were found in the position of defendant through the autonomous and independent decisions of the Judiciary, in accordance with due process without any interference by the Government authorities. The Judicial proceedings had been instituted as a consequence of the presumed activities of the abovementioned persons, a small group of people, during the events of 2002 and 2003 against the national Constitution and laws. These persons had approved the decree for the dissolution of all public powers in the Government’s seat, while the constitutionally legitimate President had been abducted in the midst of a coup d’état

In any way, the Presidency of FEDECAMARAS had been designated by the Government as the main delegate of the Venezuelan Employers’ delegation which had attended the present 93rd session of the Conference and had been able to get out of the country any time this had been necessary with the due judicial authorization, without any effect on her personal or professional life

Moreover, the speaker was once again pleased to note the cooperation and high level technical assistance provided by the regional Office of the ILO in Lima. In this case, the technical assistance or cooperation in question, of a regional nature, should serve in order to follow up to the joint declaration of the five trade union confederations of November 2004, with regard to the regime of trade union elections

The Government requested that this declaration be recorded in the provisional records

(pp.46-50)

========================================================

The Committee of Experts report (referred to in the committee discussion above) includes the following sections on Venezuela. The complete report is at http://www.ilo.org/public/english/standards/relm/ilc/ilc93/pdf/rep-iii-1a.pdf (caution: large file!)

Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise
Convention, 1948 (No. 87) (ratification: 1982)
The Committee notes the Government’s report and the discussion in the Conference Committee on the Application
of Standards in June 2004. The Committee further notes the report of the direct contacts mission which visited Venezuela
from 13 to 15 October 2004, and the comments on the application of the Convention made by the International
Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), dated 19 July 2004, and the International Organization of Employers
(IOE), dated 30 July 2004.
Reforms of the Basic Labour Act requested by the Committee
The Committee notes that, according to the report of the direct contacts mission, a Bill to amend the Basic Labour
Act will soon be submitted to the plenary session of the National Assembly and that the Supreme Court, in a decision of
15 June 2004, has set a deadline of 15 December 2004 for the adoption of the Bill by the Assembly. The Committee notes
with interest that the Bill gives effect to the requests for amendment that it had made: (1) it deletes sections 408 and 409
(over-detailed enumeration of the mandatory functions and purposes of workers’ and employers’ organizations); (2) it
reduces from ten to five years the required period of residence before a foreign worker can hold office in an executive
body of a trade union organization; (3) it reduces from 100 to 40 the number of workers required to establish a trade union
of independent workers; (4) it reduces from ten to four the number of employers required to establish employers’
organizations; (5) it provides that the technical cooperation and logistical support of the Electoral Authority (National
Electoral Council) for the organization of elections to executive bodies of trade unions shall only be provided where so
requested by trade union organizations in accordance with the provisions of their statutes, and that elections held without
the participation of the Electoral Council and which comply with the provisions of the respective trade union statutes shall
have full legal effect once the corresponding reports are submitted to the respective labour inspectorate. The Committee
notes that the direct contacts mission observed that the authorities of the Ministry and the bodies of the legislative
authority support the position set out in this provision of the Bill and that in practice trade union organizations have now
held elections without the participation of the National Electoral Council.
The Committee further notes that the Bill provides that “in accordance with the constitutional principal of
democratic alternation, the executive board of a trade union organization shall discharge its functions during the period
established by the statutes of the organization, but in no case may a period in excess of three (3) years be established”. The
Committee notes that the Government indicated, in one of its written communications to the mission, that the re-election
of trade union leaders does not raise problems in practice and it referred to various examples. The Committee notes the
suggestion made by the mission to the legislative authorities that a provision should be introduced explicitly allowing the
re-election of trade union officers and it hopes that the future reform will take on board this request.
Furthermore, the Committee notes that according to the report of the direct contacts mission, the Bill on the
democratic rights of workers (which raised problems of compatibility with the Convention) was withdrawn from the
agenda of the Legislative Assembly several years ago.
Refusal to recognize the executive committee of the
Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CTV)
The Committee recalls that in its previous observation it requested the Government to recognize immediately the
executive committee of the CTV, which was elected in October 2001. The Government had indicated that the election
process had been impugned in the National Electoral Council and the Committee of Experts endorsed the views of the
Committee on Freedom of Association that challenging the results of trade union elections should not have the effect of
suspending their validity pending the outcome of the judicial proceedings.
The Committee notes the Government’s indication that in recent years the Ministry of Labour, adopting a pragmatic
approach and in good faith, has allowed a certain level of recognition of those representing the executive committee of the
CTV, including their inclusion in the delegations to the international and regional meetings of the ILO, participation in the
Facilitation Forum organized by the United Nations Development Programme, the Organization of American States and
the Carter Centre (in which the CTV participated as a member of the so-called Coordinadora Democrática) and in
consultations on documents in the context of the Andean region, among other consultations, thereby bearing witness to a
broad view beyond what would normally be allowed in practice and under the law.
The Committee notes the emphasis placed in the report of the direct contacts mission on the fact that for years the
executive committee of the CTV has not been recognized in law by the Government and in practice has only been
recognized for very limited purposes. The Committee further notes that the report of the direct contacts mission indicates
the following:
The mission wishes to point out that the case of the CTV appears to illustrate institutional deficiencies which give rise to
concern. Indeed, despite the fact that the election of the executive committee of the CTV was held in October 2001, and new
elections are planned for the first quarter of 2005, the National Electoral Council has not yet issued an opinion on the legality of
the election process. Under these conditions, the mission draws the attention of the Committee of Experts to this situation, and
particularly so that it can comment on whether this delay has placed the executive committee of the CTV in a situation of
defencelessness and denial of justice, and on the statement of the CTV that the current situation has prevented its executive
committee from the normal exercise of its rights and has seriously prejudiced it. The mission also draws the attention of the
Committee of Experts to the current situation in which the CTV has an executive committee which is the product of an election
process, even though it is challenged by the National Electoral Council, and that the executive committee is only recognized in
practice by the Government for very limited purposes, while the executive body of the UNT central organization is recognized,
despite not having an executive body adopted through an electoral process.
The Committee considers that the above situation, and in particular the excessive delay by the National Electoral
Council, has gravely prejudiced the executive committee of the CTV and its member organizations, thereby violating the
right of this organization to elect its representatives in full freedom and to organize its activities, as recognized in Article 3
of the Convention, as well as the principles of due process. The Committee further considers that the executive committee
of the CTV has been discriminated against by the authorities, which have in contrast recognized the executive body of
another trade union confederation which has not yet held elections for its executive committee. The Committee once again
urges the Government to recognize the executive committee of the CTV for all purposes immediately, particularly taking
into account that this trade union confederation achieved 68.73 per cent of the representation in the trade union elections
in 2001.
Social dialogue with the social partners
In June 2004, the Conference Committee on the Application of Standards urged the Government to renew dialogue
with the social partners. The Committee notes that, according to the report of the direct contacts mission, with the
exception of the accord of 28 May 2003 (respecting the referendum to revoke the President), the executive bodies of the
CTV and FEDECAMARAS have not participated in social dialogue in the broadest sense of the term, particularly in
sectoral dialogue; nor, according to the data available, have the regional federations of FEDECAMARAS participated in
dialogue; it was not possible to verify whether the federations of the CTV have participated, as affirmed by the
Government; however, certain first-level organizations affiliated to FEDECAMARAS and to the CTV have participated in
sectoral dialogue (on at least three occasions). The Committee also notes that, according to the report of the direct contacts
mission, in response to the availability for dialogue demonstrated unequivocally by the central and regional executive
bodies of FEDECAMARAS (the sole confederation of employers in the country and which is the highest level of
representativeness) and the executive committee of the CTV, the Minister of Labour has not given indications of wishing
to promote or intensify bipartite or tripartite dialogue on a solid basis with these bodies; in practice, such dialogue has
practically not existed for years and only takes place in an episodic manner.
The Committee notes that the information contained in the report of the direct contacts mission shows that
representatives of the three minority workers’ confederations did participate in social dialogue forums, alongside a
workers’ confederation which has a provisional executive board, and that on the employer’s side three less representative
organizations participated which are not members of the employers’ confederation FEDECAMARAS. The Committee
considers that strict criteria of representativeness were not respected in these sectoral dialogue forums and that the
executive boards of the central organizations CTV and FEDECAMARAS were excluded from such forums, and therefore
suffered discrimination.
The Committee further notes that, according to the report of the direct contacts mission, effective consultations
between the Government and the executive bodies of the CTV and FEDECAMARAS on labour issues have been limited
and have been of an exceptional nature.
The Committee wishes to emphasize that when governments place one occupational organization at an advantage or
disadvantage in relation to the others, the choice of workers (or employers) regarding the organization to which they
intend to belong may be influenced (see General Survey on freedom of association and collective bargaining, 1994,
paragraph 104). In this respect, it emphasizes that the freedom of choice of employers and workers is a right which is
explicitly set forth in Convention No. 87, Article 2 of which recognizes their right to establish and join organizations of
their own choosing.
The Committee emphasizes the importance of the Government and the most representative organizations of
employers and workers engaging in in-depth dialogue on matters of common interest. The Committee requests the
Government to keep it informed of any form of social dialogue with the CTV and FEDECAMARAS and their member
organizations and to ensure equality of treatment between organizations.
Comments of the ICFTU and the IOE on the application
of the Convention
The Committee regrets that the Government has not sent its observations on the comments made by the ICFTU and
the IOE on the application of the Convention in practice. The Committee notes that a number of these matters have
already been addressed by the Committee on Freedom of Association in the context of Cases Nos. 2249 and 2254 on
which it adopted conclusions in June 2004 (see the 334th Report of the Committee on Freedom of Association). The
Committee of Experts refers to the conclusions of the Committee on Freedom of Association on these matters in which:
(1) with regard to the allegations by the employers, it urged that the judicial proceedings against the President of
FEDECAMARAS, Mr. Carlos Fernández, be annulled immediately; that the FEDENGA organization be reinstated in the
Agricultural and Livestock Council and that the Government stop favouring CONFAGAN; that it guarantee the
application of the new system of exchange controls without discrimination of any sort; that an investigation be carried out
without delay into the acts of vandalism at the premises of employers’ organizations and into the illegal invasions of
lands; and (2) with regard to the allegations made by the ICFTU, it urged that the detention order against the President of
the CTV, Mr. Carlos Ortega, be vacated; that it provide information on the detention orders issued against six trade union
leaders or members of UNAPETROL; that the Government initiate contacts with the members of UNAPETROL in order
to find a solution to the problem of registering the union. It also requested the Government to initiate negotiations with the
most representative workers’ confederations to find a solution to the dismissal of 18,000 workers from the PDVSA
enterprise and to institute an independent investigation without delay into instances of alleged acts of violence against
trade unionists.
Recalling that the guarantees set out in international labour Conventions, in particular those relating to freedom of
association, can only be effective if civil liberties are genuinely recognized and protected (see General Survey, op. cit.,
paragraph 43), the Committee requests the Government to give effect to the recommendations of the Committee on
Freedom of Association so as to secure the full application of the Convention in practice.
The Committee asks the Government to provide its observations on the other matters raised by the ICFTU (not
referred to previously). The Committee will examine them during the course of its next examination of the application of
the Convention.
Finally, the Committee requests the Government to provide information in its next report on the various matters
raised in this observation.
[The Government is asked to reply in detail to the present comments in 2005.]
Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98)
(ratification: 1968)
The Committee notes the Government’s report. The Committee also notes the report of the direct contacts mission
which visited Venezuela from 13 to 15 October 2004, and the comments on the application of the Convention made by the
International Organisation of Employers (IOE) (30 July 2004). The Committee notes that the comments made by the IOE
are addressed in the observation relating to the application of Convention No. 87.
With reference to its previous comments, the Committee notes with interest that, according to the report of the direct
contacts mission, the Bill to amend the Basic Labour Act will soon be submitted to the Legislative Assembly and that it
contains provisions reinforcing the sanctions in the event of violations of the guarantees protecting freedom of association
(acts of anti-union discrimination or interference) with fines of between 250 and 500 tax units, as well as, in situations in
which a single trade union exists in an enterprise but does not represent the majority of the workers, allowing the
employer to negotiate a collective agreement with this union.
With regard to its previous comments concerning the negotiation of collective agreements with non-representative
organizations of workers, the Committee requested the Government to ensure that at the outset of bargaining unions that
are able to demonstrate their representativeness are recognized. The Committee requests the Government to provide
information on cases which have occurred in recent years in which two unions claimed to be the most representative and
on the respective criteria followed in practice by the authorities in determining the most representative trade union.
(pp 125-127 in the printed document)

Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111)
(ratification: 1971)
1. The Committee notes the Government’s report and the communication from the National Single Federation of
Public Employees (FEDE-UNEP), received at ILO headquarters on 2 November 2004 and sent to the Government on
23 November 2004. The Committee will further consider the communication together with the Government’s next report
and any observation the Government may wish to make in reply.
2. Article 1. National extraction as a ground for discrimination. Referring to paragraph 3 of its previous
observation, the Committee reiterates its hope that national extraction will be added to the grounds of discrimination
prohibited by the Organic Labour Act and the draft Bill on the subsystem for employment and labour development, so that
the prohibition covers all the grounds laid down in the Convention.
The Committee is raising other points in a request addressed directly to the Government.
(p. 292)

Hours of Work (Industry) Convention, 1919 (No. 1) (ratification: 1944)
Article 2 of the Convention. Daily and weekly hours of work. In its previous comments, the Committee concluded
that section 206 of the Basic Labour Act (LOT) was not in accordance with the provisions of the Convention. Under this
section, employers and workers may decide by joint agreement to modify the limits on working hours subject to
compensatory arrangements and on condition that hours of work do not exceed 44 hours a week on average over a period
of eight weeks. The Committee noted previously that the application of section 206 is not confined to the exceptions
explicitly provided for by the Convention. Furthermore, Article 2(b) of the Convention does not allow the uneven
distribution of hours of work over a period longer than a week. Moreover, the use of the flexibility offered by this
provision requires the authorization of the competent authority or an agreement concluded between the organizations or
representatives of employers and workers. The existence of an agreement between an employer and workers on an
individual basis is not sufficient in this respect. Furthermore, the extension of hours of work authorized in this context
may not be more than one hour a day, whereas section 206 of the LOT does not establish any limit for daily hours of
work.
In its report, the Government confines itself to indicating that under the terms of section 90 of the Constitution
working hours may not exceed eight hours a day and 44 hours a week when the work is performed during the day. The
Government considers that this provision is in conformity with the requirements of the Convention and provides for
adequate guarantees to prevent abuse. It adds that the National Assembly has embarked upon a reform of the LOT,
without providing further details on this subject.
Under these conditions, the Committee is bound to reiterate its previous comments and to urge the Government to
take the necessary measures to amend the legislation so as to bring it into conformity with the provisions of the
Convention on this point. In this respect, the Government is requested to provide information on the draft amendment of
the Basic Labour Act undertaken by the National Assembly.
The Committee is also addressing a request directly to the Government on other matters.
(pp. 410-411)

Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155)
(ratification: 1984)
The Committee notes the information provided by the Government in reply to the previous comments relating to the
application of Article 17 of the Convention.
1. Article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention (measures for the implementation and review of a national policy on
occupational safety and health). The Committee notes the detailed information on the general and specific legal
provisions governing conditions of work and occupational safety and health in any workplace. It notes the numerous
industrial standards formulated by the Venezuelan Industrial Standards Commission (COVENIN), the application of
which is compulsory in certain cases, and the activities to improve their application in practice. The Committee observes
that these activities, and the legal provisions referred to in the Government’s report, are of a preventive nature and are
intended to avoid and reduce risks through vigilance and control of the working environment in workplaces.
The Committee notes the supervisory institutions enumerated in the Government’s report, the objective of which is
to establish follow-up and control mechanisms in the event of occupational accidents and diseases in compliance with its
preventive mission. The Committee also notes the measures adopted, through the inspection activities carried out in
various workplaces, the objective of which is to minimize accidents and dangers to the health of workers. The Committee
requests the Government to provide examples of such programmes.
The Committee notes that, in accordance with section 8 of the Organic Act respecting prevention, working
conditions and environment (LOPSYMAT) of 1986, the National Council of Occupational Prevention, Health and Safety
has the fundamental objective of formulating a national policy in the fields of working conditions and environment
relating to prevention, health, safety and well-being of workers. The Committee requests the Government to provide
additional information on the activities of this Council and the progress achieved in formulating, implementing and
periodically reviewing a coherent national policy on occupational safety, occupational health and the working
environment.
2. Article 5 (fields covered by a national policy). The Committee notes that occupational safety and health
committees which, in accordance with section 35 of the Organic Act (LOPSYMAT), are established in all industrial or
agricultural enterprises, concerns or establishments, are composed of representatives of workers and employers, as well as
occupational safety technicians. The Committee recalls that, in accordance with clause (d) of this Article of the
Convention, communication and cooperation at the levels of the working group and the enterprise and up to and including
the national level is one of the main spheres of action to be taken into account in the formulation of the coherent national
policy on occupational safety, occupational health and the working environment. The Committee requests the Government
to provide information on the manner in which in practice communication and cooperation are achieved at the level of the
working group and other appropriate levels, taking into account that at the national level they can be undertaken in the
National Council of Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health.
The Committee also requests the Government to indicate the manner in which relationships between the material
elements of work and the persons who carry out or supervise the work, and adaptation of machinery, equipment, working
time, organization of work and work processes to the physical and mental capacities of the workers are taken into account
when formulating the coherent national policy on occupational safety, occupational health and the working environment
(clause (b) of this Article).
3. Article 8 (laws and regulations). The Committee notes the Government’s indication that many proposals have
been made for regulations under the Organic Act respecting prevention, working conditions and environment
(LOPSYMAT) with the support and participation of employers, workers, the Government and universities. Nevertheless,
the commission responsible for the formulation of the draft regulations has decided to suspend the activities undertaken
for this purpose due to the fact that the Organic Act is also to be amended. The Committee hopes that the Government will
provide information on the progress achieved in this respect.
4. Article 11 (simultaneous exposure to several substances or agents (b) and annual publication of information (e)).
With reference to the previous comments, the Government indicates that labour supervision units, through their activities
in the fields of inspection, the promotion of prevention and advice, adopt supervisory measures and provide guidance so
that employers determine the health risks for workers based on the existing legal basis. The policy that has been
implemented is reflected in the fact that the supervisory units are in a position, through the supervision of workplaces, to
detect risks that exist in the working environment, so as to ensure that the risk of workers suffering an occupational
accident or disease is diminished. All the details are contained in the monthly reports, which act as a database for national
statistics and, in accordance with section 565 of the Organic Labour Act, within four days the employer has to notify the
labour inspectorate of the data relating to the person suffering the accident, the establishment and the accident itself.
The Committee notes this information. It requests the Government to provide information on the manner in which
health hazards due to the simultaneous exposure to several substances or agents shall be taken into consideration
(clause (b) of this Article) and the manner in which the competent authority ensures the annual publication of information
on measures taken in pursuance of the national policy on occupational safety, occupational health and the working
environment (clause (e) of this Article).
5. Article 12(b) and (c) (information concerning the correct installation and use of machinery and equipment). The
Committee notes the list of publications of the Venezuelan Industrial Standards Commission (COVENIN) regulating
equipment and the handling of hazardous substances. It also notes the Government’s indication that producers of
machinery currently issue standards to ensure that the machinery and equipment used at the workplace offer the highest
level of safety and protection possible. The Committee requests the Government to provide examples of such standards.
(pp. 430-431)

Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169) (ratification: 2002)
1. The Committee notes with interest the Government’s first report on the application of this Convention. It notes in
particular the significant amount of legislative and policy changes under way before and after the Convention’s
ratification, much of which appears designed to implement the Convention’s provisions.
2. Legislative measures. The Committee notes in particular that the Constitution of 1999 proclaimed Venezuela a
multi-ethnic and multicultural society, recognized indigenous languages, and recognized the existence of indigenous
peoples and communities, inter alia. A certain number of the Convention’s requirements are guaranteed directly in the
Constitution.
3. The Committee also notes that a number of laws have been adopted since 2001 which contribute to the
Convention’s implementation, such as the Act on demarcation and guarantee of the habitat and lands of the indigenous
peoples (12 January 2001), Decree No. 2686 of 11 November 2003 for the identification of indigenous peoples, and
Decree No. 1795 of 27 May 2002 making the use of indigenous languages obligatory in educational institutions in
indigenous regions. This list is far from exhaustive and a number of other laws or decrees have been adopted in the last
three years.
4. In addition, the Committee notes that the draft Basic Law on indigenous peoples and communities, has been
approved in first discussion in the National Assembly. The Committee has not received a copy of the draft.
5. While the Government has submitted a detailed report on the contents of its legislation and on the design of many
programmes, it does not for most part include any information on the practical application of this legislation. It states in
several cases that the legislation is undergoing regulation or that the practical arrangements for its implementation have
not been concluded.
6. The Committee therefore hopes the Government will begin to provide information in its next report on the
practical implementation of this extensive body of legislation, and of the Convention itself. The Committee notes that the
intentions expressed in the legislation are broadly in accord with the thrust of the Convention, but that the Committee will
only be able to assess the Convention’s implementation in fact when it has available information on the ways in which the
new laws are being implemented in practice.
7. Consultation of indigenous representatives. The Committee notes the participatory spirit of the legislation and of
the intentions expressed on most subjects through the report. In this spirit it draws attention to Part VIII of the report form
adopted by the Governing Body, in which it is suggested that governments consult indigenous organizations in drawing up
their reports on the Convention’s implementation. It hopes the Government will indicate whether it envisages adopting
this procedure which is a recommendation and not a requirement.
[The Government is requested to report in detail in 2006.]

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