Section 7. Worker Rights
The law specifies the right of most workers to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and strike. The law also prohibits antiunion discrimination, and workers fired for union activity have the right to reinstatement. The law provides effective remedies and penalties. The government, however, did not effectively enforce the law.
The law places restrictions on the right to strike by members of the police, corrections service, fire department, health service, and utilities (electricity, water, and telecommunications) on the grounds these organizations provide “essential services.” These workers must give 30 days’ notice before striking. Once workers have given notice, authorities usually refer the matter to an ad hoc labor tribunal set up under the Essential Services Act. The government selects tribunal members, following rules to ensure tripartite representation. These ad hoc tribunals try to resolve disputes through mandatory arbitration.
The government generally respected freedom of association, while employers generally respected the right to collective bargaining. Workers exercised the right to strike and bargain collectively.
The government prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor and effectively enforced the prohibition. Penalties for forced labor violations were insufficient to deter violations. The government did not have written procedures to guide officials on the proactive identification and referral of trafficking victims.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) noted with concern that the law allows for prisoners to be hired out to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies, and associations.
Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Not all of the worst forms of child labor are prohibited. The law does not prohibit the use, procuring, or offering of a child younger than age 18 years for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs. The law provides for a minimum legal working age of 15 once a child has finished the school year. The minimum legal age for industrial work is 18. The law provides special protections for workers younger than 18 regarding working conditions, and it prohibits hazardous work. There are no specific restrictions on working hours for those younger than 18. There is no comprehensive list of what constitutes hazardous work; however, the Occupational Health and Safety Act prohibits children younger than 18 from working in industrial settings, including using machinery and working in extreme temperatures. Children ages 15 to 17 need a parent’s permission to work.
The Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy, and Labour is responsible for enforcing statutes that regulate child labor. The penalties in theory were adequate to deter violations but these laws were not effectively enforced.
There were no formal reports of violations of child labor laws, and the government did not report any investigations (see section 6, Children).
d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
The law and regulations prohibit discrimination regarding race, skin color, sex, religion, national extraction, social origin, ethnic origin, political opinion or affiliation, age, disability, serious family responsibility, pregnancy, marital status, and HIV/AIDS status. The law does not prohibit discrimination regarding gender identity. Despite the prohibitions, the law allows for different wages for men and women doing the same work. In addition the law sets different rates of severance pay for men and women. The ILO noted with concern that certain laws and regulations, including protective measures such as the Factory Regulations of 1948, contain provisions excluding women from certain jobs.
The law prohibits termination of employment for sexual orientation. Civil society groups received reports of LGBTI persons being denied jobs or leaving jobs due to a hostile work environment. There are no specific penalties for discrimination, so penalties for discrimination are covered under the general penalties section of the labor code. The government effectively enforced applicable laws. Penalties were sufficient to deter violations.
The law provides for a minimum wage for some sectors, including office clerks, shop assistants, and messengers. On average the sector-specific minimum wages were below the official poverty level.
The legislated workweek is 40 hours, with a maximum of eight hours per day. Special legislation covers work hours for shop assistants, agricultural workers, domestic workers, and industrial workers. Labor laws, including occupational health and safety standards, apply to all workers whether in the formal or informal sector.
The labor code provides penalties which were sufficient to deter violations of labor standards. The government effectively enforced the law. The Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy, and Labour is charged with monitoring violations of labor law. Employers generally were responsive to ministry requests to address labor code violations, and authorities rarely levied fines. Officers effectively monitored compliance with standards governing pensions, terminations, vacation, sick leave, contracts, and hours of work. There were no reported violations of wage laws, and most categories of workers received wages higher than minimum wage, based on prevailing market conditions. The government reported three workplace-related deaths during the year.
The government sets occupational safety and health (OSH) standards that are current and appropriate. The number of inspectors was not adequate to enforce compliance. As of October no offices were closed for failing to meet OSH standards. Workers could remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in this situation. The ministry reported workers in the construction sector sometimes faced hazardous working conditions. Most overtime and wage violations occurred in this sector. The government does not legally define or collect statistics on the informal economy.