Honduras is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people
Union-busting and dismissals
Collective bargaining undermined
Workers in Bangladesh have long had their rights curtailed. It was virtually impossible for workers in the garment sector, the country’s largest industry, to form and join trade unions, as their attempts were regularly met with employer threats, physical violence and mass dismissals. The authorities also frustrated establishment of unions by imposing an extremely burdensome registration process. Even where workers succeeded in forming a union, registration could still be arbitrarily denied by the authorities. Between 2010 and 2021, more than 1,100 union registration applications were lodged with the authorities. The Department of Labour rejected 46% of them – an extraordinarily high rejection rate.
Workers in Bangladesh were exposed to mass dismissals, arrests, violence and state repression against peaceful protests. In the garment sector, strikes were often met with extreme brutality by the police, who used batons gunshots, tear gas and sound grenades against workers.
Workers' rights violations
On 25 June 2020, a new penal code came into force in Honduras, posing a clear threat to fundamental freedoms, as its provisions severely curbed the right to peaceful assembly. Under the new code, public protests and assemblies were criminalised and sentences could amount to up to 30 years' imprisonment.
Violent attacks on workers
Violence against trade union leaders and workers is endemic in Honduras, especially in the agricultural sector, where companies do not hesitate to resort to thugs to threaten, harass and assault workers who attempt to form or join a union. In a recent study conducted among workers in the banana industry, 59% of women surveyed in non-union banana packing plants said that they faced sexual harassment and other forms of gender-based violence at work compared with nine percent of women at unionised packing plants. Non-union workers are 81% more likely to face verbal abuse than union workers.
Right to justice
In 2019, Moisés Sánchez, general secretary of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares (STAS) at Fyffes melon fields in Choluteca, Honduras, was indicted on fabricated criminal charges for “land usurpation” following his support for the construction on an access road through his village of La Permuta, in November 2018, to facilitate access of locals to farms and fields. Sánchez faced up to thirty years in prison. The trial scheduled for 22 January 2020 did not take place due to national and international pressure. These spurious charges were the latest attempt in the long-standing campaign to destroy STAS.
Sánchez, who survived a machete attack by assailants in 2017, the year he was also fired by Fyffes, has again been the target of surveillance and threats since October 2019. The fruit company Fyffes employs more than 6,500 people on insecure contracts in melon cultivation in Honduras. The company has always been hostile towards the STAS.
Right to collective bargaining
In November 2020, the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria de la Bebida y Similares de Hondura (STIBYS) called on the Honduran Ministry of Labour to intervene to stop AB InBev-owned Cervecería Hondureña from violating the collective agreement. In the course of 2020, the company replaced 800 permanent employees with casual workers, in breach of the collective agreement, and failed to pay regular wages between March and November, leaving workers in extremely dire situations. The management further engaged in union-busting practices by summoning the STIBYS board of directors on 8 October 2020 to communicate the sanctions they intended to impose on some of its members for organising protest actions in front of the company's premises.