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In Guatemala, the Solidarity Center works to end discrimination on the job, help women and indigenous workers become strong union leaders, end impunity for violence against union activists and push for strong labor laws.

Slain dockworker Pedro Zamora's mother lays flowers on his grave.

Guatemala is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. A 36-year armed struggle in Guatemala that ended in 1996 has left a legacy of violence, corruption and lawlessness that still permeates every level of society and governance. Although Guatemala, as a member of the International Labor Organization, is committed to uphold and respect freedom of association, union activists are illegally fired, threatened, attacked and murdered, while the perpetrators of the crimes go unpunished. In addition, unions are weakened by labor laws that restrict union membership and the right to strike.

In the workplace, women are discriminated against. They are paid less than their male counterparts and are harassed and sexually assaulted. At home, the violence continues. Indigenous, rural, migrant and domestic workers also are mistreated, and the government ignores widespread violations of child labor laws. Guatemala also is a source, transit zone and destination for human trafficking.

Enabled by global and regional trade agreements, employers routinely move their production across borders to minimize labor costs and bust union organizing campaigns. Manufacturing and processing plants are sweatshops, where workers’ demands for decent wages and working conditions are ignored.

Guatemalan Unionists: No Meaningful Progress in Protecting Worker Rights. August 1, 2014—Guatemalan trade unions met with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in Guatemala City today to express their frustration with the failure of the Guatemalan government to make any meaningful progress in protecting worker rights.

Central American Trade Unionists Increasingly Targeted. February 3, 2014—The murder last week of Victor Manuel Crespo Puerto, father of Honduran union leader Victor Crespo, is the latest in a deadly turn for trade unionists in Central America.

2014 Ushers in More Anti-Union Violence in Guatemala. January 17, 2014—Guatemala’s first homicide of the new year took the life of 19-year-old Marlon Dagoberto Vásquez López, an active youth leader and member of the construction workers’ union, Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Construcción y Servicios de Guatemala (SINCS-G).

Guatemala: Global Unions Urge Justice for Murdered Unionists
. May 17, 2013—Worker rights groups are urging the Guatemalan government to bring justice to the families of the more than 56 trade union leaders killed in the past three years. No one has ever been convicted in Guatemala for killing a union leader.

Guatemala: Global Action Needed to End Murders of Union Members.
February 1, 2013—Since 2007, 64 trade unionists have been murdered in Guatemala, and hundreds more union leaders and members have been kidnapped, tortured and threatened with death—all part of an ongoing pattern of violations against worker rights, according to Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC).

INTERVIEW: Guatemalan Aluminum Workers Describe Abuse. October 11, 2012—When Emeterio Nach suffered a shoulder injury at his job, he asked his supervisor at the Ternium aluminum processing plant in Villa Nueva, Guatemala, for time off to see his doctor. After the supervisor denied his request, Nach asked again.

Workers from around the World File Complaint with the ILO Urging Guatemala to Respect the Right of Freedom of Association. June 18, 2012—Guatemala is among the worst violators of worker rights in the world today, according to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

Learn More
  • ITUC 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights in Guatemala (English / Español)
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