Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Djibouti

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 - Djibouti, 9 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c4fec81c.html [accessed 27 December 2014]
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: 864,000
Capital: Djibouti
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The activities of the national trade union centre the Union djiboutienne du travail (UDT) were banned until further notice by the authorities, and it had to cancel its congress. The government continued to harass trade unionists throughout the year. The authorities retain far-reaching powers to control trade unions.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association is strictly regulated by a 2006 Labour Code that can at best be described as unfriendly to unions. When registering a trade union, the Minister of Labour takes into account not only the appropriate union documents, but also reports by the Labour inspector, thereby giving virtual discretionary powers to the public authorities. The Law on Associations also requires prior authorisation in order to register a union. Any changes in a union's statutes or leadership must go through the same procedures as when registering the union.

Furthermore, if one of the ministries demands the dissolution of a union, the Chief Public Prosecutor can approach a civil court to obtain said dissolution. Accession to union office means the almost automatic suspension of the employment contract, and any person convicted "by any court" may not hold a leadership position.

The President has vast powers to requisition civil servants in essential services.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: The strong economic growth of recent years has not generated many jobs. The authorities are banking on the country's strategic location to develop its role as a regional and international hub for transit and redistribution. The border dispute with Eritrea remains unresolved.

Trade unions harassed and weakened: For several years, trade unionists and members have been subjected to constant harassment by the authorities. The government accuses trade union activists of being the enemies of the nation, and as such they are arrested, imprisoned, transferred or dismissed. Strikes are brutally repressed. Organisations are refused registration or are made so weak that in practice they can no longer function. For example the Dockers Union, one of the oldest in Djibouti, has been virtually unable to carry out any activities since 1995 when trade union elections were repressed by the authorities. As a result, dockers have no protection and are subjected to appalling working conditions. Despite paying dues to the Social Insurance Office by means of their taxes, only a fraction of the dockers have the right to partial coverage of their health care costs.

Puppet delegates at International Labour Conference: In June, the ILO expressed its deep concern at Djibouti's total lack of commitment and goodwill regarding the principles and obligations arising from its membership of the ILO. This criticism stemmed in part from the irregular nomination of workers' delegates. In 2009, as in previous years, the government sent trade unionists from puppet organisations to the International Labour Conference while the leaders of the Djibouti Labour Union (UDT), the representative national centre, were kept away.

UDT activities banned: On 13 October the police raided the People's Palace and prevented the Djibouti Labour Union (UDT) from preparing its national congress. The participants were forcibly dispersed. Two of them, Anouar Mohamed Ali, General Secretary of the Electricity Workers' Union of Djibouti (STED) and Abdourachid Mohammed Arreh, a member of the teachers' union (SEP) were arrested and taken to the premises of the crime squad, where they were interrogated before being released. The same day, the management of the hotel where the congress was due to take place informed the UDT that it had cancelled its reservation on the orders of the authorities. The leaders of the UDT were told by the Ministry of the Interior that UDT activities were banned until further notice. The following day Adan Mohamed Abdou, General Secretary of the UDT, was unable to enter the UDT headquarters, where two police officers were stationed at the entrance to control access.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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