Guatemala is one of the 10 worst countries in the world for working people
Violence against trade unionists
Climate of fear and impunity
In 2023, cases of threats, physical attacks and homicides continued to increase in Guatemala, while the government’s efforts to investigate, prevent and contain anti-union violence continued to be weak and inconsistent, especially in identifying the authors of these violent acts.
Workers still faced significant obstacles to forming and joining trade unions.
Workers' rights violations
On 8 August 2022, 45-year-old Hugo Eduardo Gamero Gonzalez was shot and killed in Puerto Barrios, Izabal, Guatemala. He was a Secretary in SINEPORC (Sindicato Obrero de la Empresa Portuaria Nacional Santo Tomas de Castilla) and had been a very active member in the union’s actions.
Right to trade union activities
In Guatemala, trade unions still faced important administrative obstacles for their recognition, the updating of their membership lists, and the homologation of collective bargaining agreements with the Ministry of Labour. A persisting issue in the country was the arbitrary application of criteria for recognition and registration by the administrative authorities.
Right to justice
In Guatemala, the pervasive climate of repression, physical violence and intimidation against workers and trade unionists was compounded by the government’s failure to pursue the many historic cases of murders and other violent crimes. The labour justice system remained broken and only a handful of the hundreds of murder cases were resolved, usually many years later.
In Guatemala, Winners, a company owned by South Korean company SA-E Group, shut down its operations in May 2022 and dismissed a number of workers in an attempt to prevent unionisation. The dismissed workers then tried to get new jobs but discovered they had been blacklisted.
Winners management often used physical and psychological violence, intimidation, and threats against union members. The local union general secretary was harassed, received death threats and was forced to move to a safe location.