Thursday, 23 December 2010

SJTL Slammed And Now ETAN Criticised USA Embassy in Dili Over Labor Right

Tempo Semanal-Dili, 23.12.2010
Ambassador Fergin presented her
letter of credential to East Timor
President Jose Ramos-Horta on September 16.

“We are writing regarding the dismissal of Mario Baretto and the subsequent refusal of the US Embassy in Timor-Leste to meet with his union,” wrote John Miller, the National Coordinator East Timor and Indonesia Action Network.

ETAN Continued, “We understand that the embassy will not meet with Mr Baretto's trade union, the General Workers Union of Timor-Leste (SJTL), about the dismissal arguing that "as part of the terms of his employment, Mr Baretto was/is not allowed to be a member of any organized union and therefore we will not meet with any representative acting on his behalf."

According to ETAN, “this position is contrary to international human rights law, and we urge you to quickly meet with his union representatives as called for in the Timor-Leste's Labor Code. If needed, we urge the Embassy to accept mediation before Timor-Leste's labor board to resolve the dispute about Mr. Baretto's dismissal.”
The right to form and to join trade unions is a fundamental human right, included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The International Labor Organization Convention on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, which Timor-Leste ratified on June 16 2009, also protects the right to unionize.

“As you know, the U.S. Department of State each year publishes an annual report on human rights in countries around the world. The chapter on Timor-Leste in this year's report observes that "The country has a labor code based on the International Labor Organization's standards. The law permits workers to form and join worker organizations without prior authorization." The report notes a number of the practical obstacles to the effective exercise of labor rights, to which we would now add the U.S. government,” Said in the letter which also CC to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

“The U.S. speaks regularly about the need to strengthen the rule of law in Timor-Leste. It has funded a number of programs over the last decade aimed at that goal. Howerver, its words would carry more weight and its actions more credibility, if the embassy were in compliance with Timor-Leste's labor law.”

ETAN, “urge the United States government and your embassy to honor its obligations under national and international law by meeting with Mr. Baretto's representatives and accepting mediation before Timor-Leste's labor board.”

Mario Barreto has fired from his work and East Timor Labor organisation has hold a press Conference in front of the Government office in Dili on December 9th and have criticised badly against American Embassy in Dili.

“The US Mission is denying workers their right to form and join trade unions – in contradiction of Article 23(4) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the SJTL General Secretary Almerio Vila Nova.

He informed the public that, “the US Mission in Timor-Leste refused to meet with the General Workers Union of Timor-Leste (SJTL) on 22 November 2010, regarding the unfair dismissal of its member Mario Barreto on the basis that: “as part of the terms of his employment, Mr Baretto was/is not allowed to be a member of any organized union and therefore we will not meet with any representative acting on his behalf”

Before the Press conference took place the SJTL issued a Press Release which said, “The US Mission is denying Mario Barreto his right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests as per Article 23 (4) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

“The US Mission is also breaching the International Labour Organization Convention 87, Freedom of Association, and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948, which Timor-Leste ratified on 16 June 2009.”

“US Mission officials had previously refused to meet with the union or to attend mediation by the Labour Board on the incorrect assertion that they enjoy diplomatic immunity.”

Almerio Vila Nova, General Secretary of SJTL stated, “The US Mission seems intent on using any fabrication to avoid their obligations to consult with Mr Barreto and his trade union. We are dismayed that the United States of America is denying Timorese workers their human rights and breaking national law and we are disappointed that the US Mission will not even meet with us or attend mediation to discuss the matter. As such we are left with no option other than to call on the governments of Timor-Leste to intervene and to seek international support.”

Mr Barreto was employed by the US Mission as a security officer from 3 May 2004 and was dismissed on 16 July 2010 in breach of the Labour Code of Timor-Leste.(TS)

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