HRREC members worked on an international project on Colombia

Labour relations

By University of Ottawa

Human Rights Research and Education Centre, HRREC

HRREC members worked on an international project on Colombia
Two members of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Catalina Arango and Nelson Arturo Ovalle Diaz, worked on an international participative research project from 2019 until 2022, under the directorship of Yves Le Bouthillier, Full Professor in the Faculty of Law’s Common Law Section.

The study, Building Constructive and Sound Labour Relations in Colombia: A Contribution towards the Improvement of Labour Practices in Colombia, was made possible through a grant from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). It was let by a team of researchers assembled at the University of Ottawa and used a participatory methodology.

The project implements recommendation 1.5 of the Canada-Colombia Action Plan 2018-2021. The study finds that the legacy of the armed conflict, rampant labour informality, the lack of institutional capacity, the use of harmful labour practices, and the lack of collective will to eliminate the use of harmful labour practices as well as to update legislation and the functioning of institutions, generally, constitute the top five issues which inhibit an effective labour relations system in Colombia. However, it recognizes that there is an opportunity to build on what exists in Colombia, drawing inspiration from principles and practices in the Canadian labour relations model, to develop a stronger Colombian labour relations system.

In the report, it is recommended that the parties abandon the use of harmful labour relations practices (e.g., collective pacts, union contracts and fragmentation of union representation) and embrace legislative and institutional changes that fit within Colombia’s current constitutional framework. The implementation of a culture of peace and cooperation in labour relations, the creation of mutual trust amongst stakeholders through consistent dialogue, the professionalization of independents and administrative agencies who are responsible for enforcing labour standards and resolving conflicts and reducing/eliminating labour informality are the tasks to be undertaken immediately to reduce conflict in the labour relations context. Finally, strengthening institutional capacity by creating a labour superintendency and a national centre for mediation and arbitration for labour relations would assist in building productive and sound labour relations in Colombia.

The research team hopes this study will contribute to social peace in Colombia through effective social dialogue resulting in an improved labour relations system developed through strengthened, independent, and impartial institutions.