January 22, 2018 / 2:47 PM / 10 months ago

ILO to investigate employers' complaint against Venezuela government

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a special session of the National Constituent Assembly to present his annual state of the nation at the Palacio Federal Legislativo in Caracas, Venezuela, January 15, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

GENEVA (Reuters) - The International Labour Organization will send a mission to Caracas next week to investigate a complaint by Venezuela’s leading business group against the government, ILO Director-General Guy Ryder told a news conference in Geneva on Monday.

“The complainant organization in Venezuela, the employers’ federation Fedecamaras, complains both that there is no genuine process of dialogue with the authorities, and complained also that they are subject to pressure if not intimidation from the authorities,” Ryder said.

“It’s relatively unusual for the employers to present a complaint, and it’s under Article 26 of the ILO constitution. This is, I would say, the heavy artillery of our supervisory system.”

The mission was mandated by the ILO’s governing body in November and will report back in March. The governing body, comprising 28 governments, 14 employers’ representatives and 14 workers’ representatives, could decide to set up a commission of inquiry, Ryder said.

“To give you some perspective, that was the process that eventually was used in the case of Myanmar over forced labor a decade ago. It’s been used on some of the causes celebres in the past – one thinks of Zimbabwe in the worst days, Belarus.”

An ILO commission of inquiry would be able to make recommendations of “any nature whatsoever”, with the aim of ensuring Venezuela meets its obligations under the ILO convention on the freedom of association, Ryder said.

Fedecamaras has long been at odds with President Nicolas Maduro’s government and played a major role against the government of his predecessor Hugo Chavez in 2002, when its head briefly became interim president.

The mission has the cooperation of the government and a program of meetings is being worked on, Ryder said.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Toby Chopra

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