SUMMARY OF SUBMISSION AND ALLEGATIONS
- Submission No. 9703 raises issues of freedom of association at the ITAPSA plant beginning in 1996. According to the submitters, workers attempted to organize a union to address problems of workplace safety and health as well as economic issues. Once the union organizing effort began, the established union at the plant, in alliance with plant management, began a campaign of threats and intimidation against the workers, including threats of dismissal, surveillance, and increases in the workload of selected employees. About fifty workers were fired from their jobs for supporting the independent union (STIMAHCS).
- At a representation election held on September 9, 1997, workers were required to publicly vote in the presence of the contending unions, management representatives, and about 170 aggressive thugs hired by the established union to intimidate the workers. Furthermore, the submitters maintain that a number of these thugs, who were not employed at the plant, were allowed to vote. The election was allowed to proceed by government authorities and the result was a resounding defeat for STIMAHCS. Additionally, workers were dismissed from their jobs on the basis of the exclusion clause, allegedly for how they voted in the representation election.
- According to the submitters, the labor tribunal with jurisdiction in the case conducted a hearing on the objections to the election without providing proper notice to the petitioners, who were not afforded an opportunity to present their case, and collective bargaining rights remained with the established union. A Federal Court later overturned the CAB and ordered a new hearing. In the meantime, representation has remained with the established union.
- A major concern of the workers at the plant is safety and health, especially exposure to asbestos and other toxic substances without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).