New union legal office enjoys great success in its first year, thanks to UNISON support

NSCAG News | on: Thursday, 25 October 2012

Unison International Development Fund has for the last year been supporting a much needed Legal Office in Nicaragua. Run by the public sector union UNE, the office is the first of its kind in the country and provides advice and advocacy for workers whose rights have been violated.

UNE General Secretary, Domingo Perez visited UK last year and made many friends among UNISON’s membership. At the end of this first year of operation of the Legal Office he says “I would like to thank the powerful trade union organisation UNISON in the UK, our friend who has trusted in this organisation, UNE Nicaragua and its leaders, because this project has served to raise our profile and our achievements”.

The results have been excellent from UNE’s point of view and from that of its branches, federations and confederations. Domingo commented, “Being able to count on a legal office is a deciding factor in trade unionism, as it is a sine qua non for strengthening its objectives. A trade union that lacks support and legal advice will have serious problems with future union organising.

The legal office has obtained many legal rulings for job reinstatement and payment of employment benefits to our union members, as well as child maintenance rulings for workers and their families and has set precedents for favourable rulings in administrative procedures with the Ministry of Labour, the National Civil Services' Appeal Commission and the Municipal Administrative Career Commissions, where we have trade unions at all levels, to compensate workers whose rights that had been violated.

The greatest result for beneficiaries has been in negotiating Collective Agreements, because these are indeed the collective rights of workers. The most recent one was negotiations for the Collective Agreement at the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic where it had never previously been possible to have an Agreement registered with the Ministry of Labour Department of Individual and Collective Negotiation, which benefits more than 550 workers at the national level.

Another pivotal achievement of the Legal Office is the Trade Union Training for our union leaders at national level. The legal professionals we have at the legal office are part of the national training team. Training union leadership is vitally important for UNE and any union institution. It is among their priorities for innovating and modernising union work. To this end training was held on the following subjects:

- Collective Agreements

- Civil Service and Administrative Career Law

- Municipal Career Law and its regulation

- Gender Equality Law

- Budgetary System Law

- Municipal Budgetary System Law

- Municipal Transfers Law

- Trade Union Organisation

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