Study of labor laws and obstacles to compliance in Nicaragua
Date of publication: March 1, 2004
This report, commissioned by ILRF in Nicaragua in (x year), found evidence of the following labor rights violations in summary:
Right to Associate
There is no administrative procedure to guarantee due process when a worker is dismissed for defense of his or her rights, participation in union activities, collective bargaining or participation in a strike.
The legal status of Leadership Boards of unions is frequently suspended through administrative processes in order to eliminate the protection of fuero sindical and allow employers to fire union leaders.
The minimum working age is 14. The General Labor Inspectorate has the authority to regulate exceptions, effectively permitting it to authorize children younger than 14 to work.
It is well known that laws restricting child labor are not applied in the agricultural sector. This situation worsens during the harvest times for coffee, cotton, or bananas; during these seasons, many children help their parents in the fields to increase the family's income.
Wages, Hours and Working Conditions
National law stipulates the abolishment of forced labor, but judges have continued to allow forced overtime. There are legal loopholes in terms of the management of the workday, which favor the employer and force workers to accept shifts that are 10, 12, 16, and even 24 hours long in extreme cases.
The only existing sanction for violations of the laws on wages and working hours is a fine, which is limited to a maximum of 10,000 córdobas (US$666), an amount so small that it does not effectively prevent employers from violating the law.
Continuous contracting is common in Nicaragua and allows employers to avoid Nicaragua's labor standards. Workers are hired for short periods, no longer than three months. The contract is not extended beyond that time if the worker tries to defend their rights, join a union, sign a collective bargaining agreement, or support the declaration of a strike in a workers' assembly.
Workers are often fired under the pretext of "just cause" which is permitted by Nicaraguan law, and without asking for authorization from the Labor Inspectorate. Thus employers can avoid paying compensation and benefits to these workers.