Unison approves £20,500 funding for legal office of Nicaraguan public sector union UNE

NSCAG News | on: Friday, 14 June 2013

‘The capacity to provide legal advice and support is critical to securing workers’ rights and to UNE’s growth and consolidation.Domingo Perez, general secretary, UNE

Prior to 2011, UNE had very limited capacity to address attacks on workers’ rights such as arbitrary sackings, sexual harassment and denial of protective clothing. Members, particularly low paid women workers with no resources to pay legal fees, had no recourse to justice. In 2011 thanks to Unison’s support, for the first time ever UNE was able to set up a legal office not only to address members’ problems, but also to enable UNE to negotiate collective bargaining agreements more effectively and to provide training in employment law for union leaders.

Office manager Lizzette Lopez and lawyer Henry Rodriguez

Office manager Lizzette Lopez and lawyer Henry Rodriguez in front of the UNE legal office. The Unison International Development Fund financed the first phase of the Office between August 2011 to August 2012 and has approved further funding from June 2013 to May 2015.

Credit: Liz Light

Alvaro Garcia visited the legal office to get advice after being unjustly sacked from his job at Superintendency of Banks. He explains: “With no income and few resources I can’t afford to pay a lawyer. This office is indispensable for people in my position ….the workers are very diligent and efficient. Due to the Legal Office taking on my case all 220 workers in the Superintendency of Banks have received benefits they were previously denied because we have organised ourselves. A private lawyer wouldn’t take on a state entity but UNE is truly defending workers’ rights.”

Alvaro Garcia

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