Last Updated: Monday, 23 May 2016, 07:53 GMT

The Global State of Workers' Rights - Sudan

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 31 August 2010
Cite as Freedom House, The Global State of Workers' Rights - Sudan, 31 August 2010, available at: [accessed 24 May 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.

Very Repressive

Workers' rights in Sudan are severely restricted. The 1992 Trade Union Act established a monopoly under the government-controlled Sudan Workers' Trade Union Federation (SWTUF), which is composed of 25 state unions and 22 industry unions. No other unions are allowed. The government determines all aspects of union activity, including their administrative structure and elections. Trade union funds are controlled by the auditor general, a member of the government. The current labor code, introduced in 2000, reinforces this system of control. It states that one of a union's core objectives should be to cooperate with the government to promote national independence and security. The current government of national unity has been discussing proposals for new trade union regulations, but the negotiations are stalled.

Sudan has not ratified the International Labour Organization convention that guarantees the right to organize and bargain collectively. Strikes require government approval, which is not granted. However, unofficial strike action in 2009 involved a wide range of professions, including teachers, railway workers, and even water carriers.

There is no collective bargaining. A government-appointed panel sets salaries for public-sector workers. Although there is a statutory minimum wage, it does not provide a worker with a decent standard of living. A lack of capacity in the autonomous government of Southern Sudan means that wages are often not paid on time, if at all, to civil servants in its jurisdiction.

Trade union activists who operate outside government-sanctioned organizations face intimidation and arrest. Workers in Sudan's oil industry are closely monitored by the intelligence service, and their movements are restricted. Sudan operates one export-processing zone, in Port Sudan, which is exempt from labor laws.

Forced or compulsory labor is technically illegal but common in Sudan. Conscription of men and boys into the country's armed forces and a multitude of other armed groups remains a serious problem. Women and children continue to face the threat of forced labor, domestic servitude, or sexual slavery.

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