Brief Description of Employees’ and Employers’ Associations
Everyone has the right to associate with others. In the Dominican Republic, there are unions and employers’ associations that represent all kinds of activities. Employees have the right to organise in unions. The affiliation of employees to unions is not mandatory. The employee is free to decide whether or not to join the union. Also, there can be several unions in a company. There is no limitation in this regard. However, there are no unions by locality, but rather by company.
A trade union can be established with a minimum of twenty active-duty workers. An employers’ association needs at least three employers. No prior authorisation is required for the creation of a union or an employers’ association. Employees in a position of trust cannot be members of unions.
Unions in the Dominican Republic are common, especially in large companies that manage many workers. Unions are supposed to represent the interests and rights of workers. However, unions tend to be highly political, and this limits the effectiveness of such unions.
Rights and Importance of Trade Unions
Among other activities, trade unions can do the following: i) initiate a collective dispute on economic issues; ii) negotiate collective agreements on behalf of workers; and iii) deal with health and safety problems at work.
Employees and employers’ organisations have the right to draft their statutes and regulations, freely elect their representatives, and organise their administration and activities. Employees’ organisations will have the right to establish and join federations, confederations, and any other organisation of this type.
According to Dominican law, bargaining with unions is mandatory if the union has, as its members, more than 50% of the headcount (of employees) in the company.
The Labour Code recognises the right to strike for trade unions, but before the strike, the unions must give ten days’ notice to the Ministry of Labour. However, strikes need to be peaceful. Strikes in essential services, such as public services, communications and hospitals, are illegal.
Disputes with workers represented by the unions, or with them, are resolved through conciliation or judicial proceedings. If workers are part of a union, the employer must follow a particular process to act against those workers. Unions can negotiate on behalf of employers and employees, and can enforce collective agreements. Collective agreements are instruments executed between unions representing employers and employees, to establish general rules and regulations governing the relationship of a specific category of employers and employees. The conditions negotiated by the unions are mandatory and cover all employees of the company. An employer can also negotiate a specific collective agreement, applicable to its employees, directly with the employee union.
Other Types of Employee Representative Bodies
In the Dominican Republic, the unions do not participate in the direction or management of the company, but they do have the right to participate as representatives of the employees, in the company’s Joint Hygiene and Safety Committees. Employees have the right to appoint representatives to form part of the Joint Health and Safety Committee. If there is a union, the union will represent the employees before the Joint Hygiene and Safety Committee. However, some large companies with unions, create a Consultative Committee to meet monthly; the foremost union leaders meet with human resource management to discuss all matters concerning the company’s workers.