5 November, 2020Guatemala's Labour Ministry has registered the first collective employment agreement between Ternium International Guatemala and the union Sitraternium, bringing an eight-year dispute to an end.
In 2017, IndustriALL lodged a complaint against Ternium with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), as the company refused to recognize and negotiate with the trade union in Guatemala. A year later, Ternium representatives agreed to negotiate a collective employment agreement with Sitraternium.
The collective bargaining process formally began in 2019, and the first collective employment agreement was signed by both parties in January 2020. It then took eight months for the agreement, which is valid for three years, to be certified by the Ministry on 14 October.
"The agreement is nothing exceptional, but it provides employees with some rights that the company had tried to curtail. We now have a legal guarantee that those rights will be respected, and we can build a dialogue with the company.
"We're proud of the outcome as the process was not easy. It is the result of a collective effort by all our members, as well as of national and international unions. We couldn't have done it without this support,”
says Sitraternium general secretary, Walter Rodríguez.
When the union was founded in 2012, workers had to contend with anti-union behaviour by Ternium. In response, they launched a widespread campaign to protect their right to freedom and association, with support from IndustriALL.
The union says that relations with the company have improved, and a dialogue on Covid-19 protocols was possible. It is hoped that Ternium now will recognize the union as a legitimate organization and fully comply with the agreement.
IndustriALL regional secretary, Marino Vani, says:
"When workers come together we can achieve our goals. The national, regional and global unity of workers in the Tenaris – Ternium union network is truly commendable – they are writing history and working to ensure their rights are respected.
"This outcome was achieved through a combination of the network’s solidarity, local campaigns and the complaint lodged with the OECD. We can only build a dialogue with companies if we are united, and we will continue working together to create a world that is better for everyone."