Freedom of Association and Protection of the

Right to Organize Convention, 1948
(No.87)
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Tim De Meyer
Specialist on International Labour Standards& Labour Law, Subregional
Office for East Asia (SRO Bangkok), Thailand
demeyer@ilo.org
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demeyer@ilo.org
Ratification
Ratified by 80% of States worldwide, but only 50%of States in Asia Pacific
In AP, C.87 is the least widely ratified of the ILO fundamental Conventions
Countries with sizeable populations have not ratified C.87 nor C.98:
China, India, United States + Viet Nam, IR Iran, RoKorea , Thailand
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Why C.87/ C.98?
Development (including the functioning of labour market ) is a
process that needs to be governed by democratic participation ,
particularly from the productive forces
Effective particularly requires strong, independent and
representative (SIR) organization of employers and workers ( E&W)
To be SIR, E&W organizations need rights that guarantee their
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
To be SIR, E&W organizations need rights that guarantee their
independence from the public authorities, as well as from each other
C.87: independence from public authorities
C.98 :independence from each other, including
Independent negotiation with each other on conditions of work
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Fundamental Right ?
Three right are considered fundamental
-The right to organize to defend & further interests
- The right to bargain collectively
- The right to strike
Fundamental does not mean absolute,
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Fundamental does not mean absolute,
i.e they can be subject to restrictions or conditions
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Right to Organize
=all workers, including e.g
Public servants
teachers
state enterprise employees
judiciary
prison guards
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
prison guards
security saff
Civilian e,ployees in defense industry
workers in essential wervices
self- employed workers
Except armed forces and police
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Right to Organize
=all workers, including e.g
managerial staff & executive staff in the public & private sector
… but they can be required to organize separately from non-
executive staff, as long as the no notions of “ executive” and “non
–executive” are not defined in a way to hollow out the membership
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
–executive” are not defined in a way to hollow out the membership
base of the non- executive unions
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Right to bargain collectively (C.98)
=all workers, including e.g
Teachers
state enterprise employees
civilian employees in defense industry
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
civilian employees in defense industry
essential services in the public and private sector
Except armed forces and police
administration of the state
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Right to Strike
=all workers, including
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security staff for private companies
civilian employees in defense industry
(unless an essential service)
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Except
armed forces and police
Exercising authority for the State
essential services in public or private sector
acute emergency
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Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to
Organize Convention, 1948 ( No. 87)
Principle
Freedom of workers and employers to establish or join organizations of their
own choosing to defend and further their interests, independently from the
public authorities
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
public authorities
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Who has the right to organize?
WORKERS without distinction whatsoever
wage- earners & independent ( self- employed) workers, i.e. anyone
who pursues or is willing to pursue ( e.g. unemployed) a living through
work
Both citizens and (regular & irregular) migrant workers
Public servants, workers of state enterprises & public corporations
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Public servants, workers of state enterprises & public corporations
agricultural workers
workers in export processing zones/ industrial estates
atypical workers (temporary, fixed-term, casual, part –time, seasonal)
workers
Workers in the informal economy
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Who has the right to organize?
Employers, also managerial staff and executive staff in the public and private
sector
Not necessarily
armed forces and police
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Rights guarantee by C.87
Establishment of organizations without prior authorization
Without the Gov’t deciding whether the organization can be
established or not
Registration
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Is OK to ensure democratic functioning of trade unions or to
prevent financial fraud
is not OK if the registration procedure is too long and
complicated, or gives the registrar the power to e.g. impose
organization by enterprise only
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Rights guarantee by C.87
Right to establish and join organizations of theirs own choosing
By occupation (trade) , by region, by company, by
industry…
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
because of special position of public servants, prohibiting
incividual to join mixed unions is OK, provided public servant
unions can join mixed federations
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Rights covered
Free to draw up constitutions and rules
e.g. no prescription in minute detail of election procedures
To elect representatives in full freedom
e.g. no requirement to be employed in the occupation since a certain time
Free to organize their administration
e.g. financial administration (e.g. strike funds) may only be subject to judicial
control
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
control
Free to organize their activities
e.g. unhindered disposal of all fixed and movable assets
Free to formulate their programmers
i.e. to determine the relationship with political parties in function of the need to
dafend occupational interests
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Rights guaranteed by C.87
Right of an organization not be dissolved or suspended by
administrative authority
i.e. a trade union may be dissolved e.g. if it has completely
ceased to fulfill its mission, or if turns out be a cover for
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
ceased to fulfill its mission, or if turns out be a cover for
fraudulous operations, but dissolution must result from the
decision of an independent judicial authority after a due process
of law; if it results from the decision of e.g. the Registrar, then
the decision should not take effect before appeal procedures
have been exhausted
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Rights covered
Solidarity : Right to establish or join federations & confederations of
organizations under the same guarantees as for establishing first-level
organizations, including
Right to receive assistance
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Right to receive assistance
Right to maintain contact and exchange trade union publications
Sending and receiving representatives
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Rights guarnateed by C.87
respect for the law of the land
i,e. trade union rights and civil liberties are no license to commit
violence or destruction
Law of the land must not impair the Convention's guarantees
e.g. in case of violence, arrest the perpetrator for specific acts, not
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
e.g. in case of violence, arrest the perpetrator for specific acts, not
the union leader
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Civil liberties
1970 Resolution: absence of civil liberties removes meaning from trade
union right
Right to security of person and freedom from arbitrary arrest
Freedom of opinion and expression
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Freedom of opinion and expression
Freedom of assembly
Right to a fair trial by impartial judiciary
Right to protection of property of trade union organizations
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Right to security of person
The killing, disappearance or serious injury of trade union leaders and
trade unionists requires
the institution of independent judicial inquiries…
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
… in order to shed full light, at the earliest date, on the facts and
the circumstances in which such actions occurred and to the extent
possible, determine
where responsibilities lie
punish the guilty parties and
prevent the repetition of similar events
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Right to security of person
Impunity reinforces the climate of violence and insecurity and
thus has an extremely damaging effect on the exercise of trade
union rights
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
Right to Strike in international law
Guaranteed in Art. 8 of the UN International Covenant on Economic,
Social & Cultural Rights
Referred to the ILO Abolition of forced Labour Convention, 1957 (No.
105); Voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration Recommendation (N0. 92)
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
105); Voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration Recommendation (N0. 92)
Not explicitly mentioned in the Freedom of association and Protection
of the Right to Organize Convention, 1948 (No.87) , but considered
implicit in the tight to organize activities, and in the right to further and
defend interests
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Function of the Right to Strike
Fundamental workers’ right, meant to enable workers to bring pressure to
bear on employers, not to destroy productive assets
Marker principle: temporarily withholding labour is the only negotiation tool
which workers have
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
collective bargaining – Right to strike = collective begging
structuring collective bargaining is in the M/L term a more effective way
to deal with strikes over interest disputes than the present regulation
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Function of the Right to Strike
Pressure valve in situations where market dynamics between
employers and workers are emerging and law enforcement and dispute
settlement machinery do not yet function perfectly
role of courts which is to enforce the law is also to be limited
role for a mechanism to legitimize strikes and resolve disputes
(e.g.OSH), rather than pushing disputes into illegality
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
<< Harnessing, not pre-emoting market forces>> - regulation of strike action
should be limited to the fringes, situations where the public interest is at stake
beyond reasonable doubt
No absolute right, i.e. subject to conditions
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
<< .~¸.~ ~ ± ±.~ ~ ~ ¸ .¸¸ ¸ .~¸~ _ . ~ ¸~ .¸ . ~ >>
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Substantive Restrictions
a general prohibition is only acceptable
When normal functioning of society has ceased
for a limit period
to the extend necessary to meet the requirement of the situation
A sectoral prohibition is acceptable
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
A sectoral prohibition is acceptable
for public servants exercizing authority in the name of the State
essential services, provided there are compensatory guarantees
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Procedural Restrictions
Legal procedural restrictions are acceptable, if they do not place a
substantial limitation on the right to strike
obligation of prior notice to employers =OK
prior exhaustion of voluntary mediation and arbitration= OK, if not too
long
obligation of secret ballot to validate strike decision =OK
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
obligation of secret ballot to validate strike decision =OK
obligation of quorum=OK, if
The quorum is not too high …
… taking into account the size of the undertakings
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Essential services
= service which, if interrupted, endanger the life, personal safety/
health of whole or part of the population
Essential Service
Not Essential Service
• Telephone service • Petroleum refinery
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
• Air traffic controllers
• Hospital workers
• Public utilities
( water, gas, electricity)
• Banking
• Transport
• Radio and television
broadcasting
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Essential services
Compensatory guarantees required in the event of restriction of the right to
strike
conciliation and mediation procedures
impartial
arbitration awards
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
arbitration awards
binding on both parties
implemented rapidly and complete
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Body of principles on the right to strike
conciliation of the right to strike as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by
workers and their organizations (trade unions, federations &
confederations), which is protected at international level, provided that the
right is exercised in a peaceful manner.
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
General recognition of the right to strike for workers in the public and
the private sectors, with the sole possible exceptions being members
of the armed and police forces, public servants who exercise authority
in the name of the State and workers employed in essential services in
the strict sense of the term ( the interruption of which could endanger
the life, safety or health of the whole or part of the population), or on
situations of acute national crisis.
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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The principles of freedom of association do not cover strikes of a
purely political nature, although they do cover those which seek a
solution to major issues in economic and social policy
A blanket ban on sympathy strikes could lead to abuse. Workers
should be able to enjoy the right to take such action when the initial strike
they are supporting is itself lawful.
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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A minimum safety service may be imposed in all cases of
strike action when such minimum services are intended to
ensure the safety of persons, the prevention of accidents
and the safety of machinery and equipment
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
and the safety of machinery and equipment
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
A minimum operational service may be established (in the
undertaking or institution in question) in the case of strikes in
public utility services and in public services of fundamental
importance; employer’s and workers’ organizations and the
publish authorities should be able to participate in determining
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
this minimum service
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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The obligation to give prior notice, the obligation to engage in
conciliation, have recourse to voluntary arbitration, comply with
a given quorum and obtain the agreement of a given majority
where this does not cause the strike to become very difficult or
even impossible in practice and the secret ballot method to
decide strike action are all acceptable conditions for the
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
decide strike action are all acceptable conditions for the
exercise of the right to strike
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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,_~~ ~_
Restrictions on picketing should be confined to case in which
such action ceases to be peaceful, and picketing should not
interfere with the freedom to work of non- strikers.
Requisitioning of the workers of an undertaking or institution
in the event of a strike is admissible only in the case of strike in
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
in the event of a strike is admissible only in the case of strike in
an essential service or under circumstances of utmost gravity
and in situations of acute national crisis.
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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~ . , ±_~ ±~_ .¸~ .'.¸~_ ±.¸±.¸¸¸ ._ ~_ ..~.
¸¸ ~_
The hiring of workers to replace strikers seriously impairs
the right to strike and is acceptable only in strikes in an
essential service or in situations of acute national crisis
Legal provisions regarding wage deductions for days of
strike give rise to no objection
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
strike give rise to no objection
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
~ ~ . ~ ~~±~ ~ ~ ±..~¸ ¸¸ . ~ ~~ _ ¸.±,¸¸¸ .
~.¸ .~ ~¸~ ~ ,¸ ,
Appropriate protection should be afforded to trade union
officials and workers against dismissal and other detrimental acts
at work for organization or participating in a legitimate strike, in
particular through prompt, efficient and impartial procedures,
accompanied by sufficiently dissuasive remedies and sanctions.
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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±~±~ .. ¸. , ~ ~_
The Protection of freedom of association does not cover abuses in the
exercise of the right to strike involving failure to comply with reasonable
requirement regarding lawfulness, or consisting of acts of a criminal nature;
any sanctions imposed in the event of abuse should not be disproportionate to
the seriousness of the violation
Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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Federation of Trade Unions- Burma
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