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2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Burkina Faso

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Burkina Faso, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 15,800,000
Capital: Ouagadougou
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

A trade union leader was sacked at Total-Burkina. Trade union activists in the civil service who had previously been transferred had still not been reinstated in their posts. Despite recent improvements to the Labour Code, excessive restrictions still remain.

Trade union rights in law

A 2008 amendment to the Labour Code brought some improvements to the trade union rights situation, and explicitly recognised the right to form and join trade unions. The new Labour Code also bans any trade union related dismissal. Although unions have the right to bargain collectively on wages and working conditions, the categories of public servants who enjoy this right have not yet been specified.

The new Labour Code recognises the right to take strike action, also to defend workers' material or moral interests. However, occupation of workplaces or their immediate surroundings is not permitted, and the government retains the right to requisition private and public sector workers to ensure a minimum service.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: In February, Burkina Faso announced the discovery of a significant quantity of offshore oil near the border with Nigeria. Heavy rains swept the country on 1 September, flooding 150,000 people out of their homes in Ouagadougou. At the same time, pockets of desertification were beginning to spread across the south of the country.

Right to strike frequently flouted: The protection of striking workers and trade union activists is being respected less and less. In the public sector, dismissed strikers were not reinstated despite court rulings in their favour. In the private sector, employers were supported by the Labour Inspector and the Regional Labour Department, as in the case of Total-Burkina.

Unfair dismissal of trainee clerks: On 4 March, the government announced it was going to dismiss trainee clerks who had taken part in a strike on 18, 19 and 20 February organised by the Clerks Union of Burkina (SGB) and the Ministry of Justice Employees Union (SYNAJ). Out of the 40 clerks concerned initially, seven were officially dismissed by the Civil Service Ministry. One of them was a woman who was at the end of her pregnancy and was on maternity leave at the time of the strike. At the end of the year, at a meeting with representatives of the two unions, the Ministry of Justice said it did not exclude the reinstatement of the sacked strikers.

Trade unionist sacked at Total-Burkina: On 27 March management at Total Burkina sacked Yacouba Ouédraogo, a trade union activist from the General Confederation of Labour of Burkina (CGT-B). The workers had stopped work for several hours because their demands dating back to May 2008 (the establishment of a collective agreement and better pay) had been ignored by their employer. At the beginning of April, the regional labour department authorised the trade unionist's dismissal. The workers stepped up their protest. Three weeks of strike action and negotiations resulted in some progress being made, but not the lifting of the sanction against Yacouba Ouédraogo. On 30 July, however, the labour tribunal ordered his reinstatement.

Renewed attempt to silence trade unions in the gold-mining sector: On 30 April 99 workers at the Morila gold mine were sacked after a 48-hour strike. The mining company's management claimed that the measures were the result of the international financial crisis. Ismaëla Marna Doumbia, the spokesperson of the Morila Staff Delegates' Collective, believes the employer's aim was to silence the trade unions, as the dismissed workers included most of the staff delegates. The strikers were calling for a redeployment of staff to avoid dismissals. There had been constant industrial strife since 2005 (see previous editions of the Survey). By the end of 2009, the workers' demands had still not been heard, and the dismissed strikers who had lodged a complaint were awaiting a decision by the courts, due in January 2010. The Morila mining company is managed by Randgold Resources, a company registered in Jersey, which owns 40% of the shares, together with Anglogold Ashanti and the Malian State.

Sanction against civil servants transferred in 2007 still not lifted: Civil servants from the Union of Treasury Agents of Burkina (SATB) and the Autonomous Trade Union of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Agents (SAMAE) who had been transferred for taking part in protest action in May 2007 had not been reinstated in their posts by the end of the year (see the 2007 and 2008 editions of the Annual Survey). In a letter to the ILO, the government stated that the transfers were due to "human resource management requirements". Several court rulings in favour of workers unfairly dismissed over the last few years have not been acted on.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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