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2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Chad

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Chad, 6 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fd8895b7.html [accessed 2 September 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: 11,200,000
Capital: N'Djamena

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Threats: 1
Injuries: 19
Arrests: 20
Imprisonments: 1

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher

Introduction

The oil sector was the scene of persistent labour and trade union rights violations. Subcontractors and employment agencies, abetted by ESSO-Chad and China National Petroleum Corporation International (CNPCI), refused to negotiate with the unions. The authorities also offered their support, intervening to repress strikes.

Background

In May, President Idriss Deby Itno, who came to power in a coup in 1990, was re-elected for a fourth term, garnering 88% of the vote in a poll boycotted by the opposition. His party, the Mouvement patriotique du salut (MPS), had secured a large majority in the legislative elections in February. The oil boom in Chad, one of the world's poorest countries, has not yet benefitted the population at large. The easing of relations with Sudan reduced the number of clashes and abuses in the east of the country.

Trade union rights in law

Basic trade union rights are frustrated by interference by the authorities. Although the Labour Code protects unions against anti-union discrimination, it also obliges them to provide financial statements and receipts whenever labour inspectors so request.

The right to collective bargaining is enshrined in the Labour Code, which nevertheless allows for some government intervention. Finally, the Law of 9 May 2007 circumscribes the right to strike in the public sector. All industrial disputes must be submitted to the Conciliation Council established by the Law, and unions must announce the length of the strike prior to taking action. The authorities can unilaterally determine the extent of the minimum service in services deemed "essential" and the number of employees required, and are also permitted to requisition workers.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

Social dialogue at a standstill: The two main trade union centres, forming a common front, denounced the government's total disregard for the demands presented by workers. Among them is the demand for a public sector pay review, which the government had pledged in 2007 to conduct as soon as the financial situation allowed for it. The state's resources have, in the meantime, tripled, if not quadrupled. On 11 November, after three strikes, the head of state finally agreed to meet with trade union leaders and satisfy some of their demands.

Violations

Oil field workers intimidated and threatened with dismissal:

Striking workers at Catering International Services (CIS) reported that they had been faced with threats and intimidation at the hands of their employer and ESSO-Chad. The 480 workers employed by this French company subcontracted to provide catering, lodging and other services had staged a warning strike from 15 to 17 May. Faced with the employers' refusal to negotiate better working conditions, they went on to step up their action on 21 May. The employer, ESSO management, security officers and the police tried to move the strikers out of the camp on several occasions. On 13 June, CIS had them issued with a list of the people suspended and threatened with dismissal; the strikers disregarded it, considering their protest to be legal and legitimate. For several days, the security stopped any supplies being brought in to cover the strikers' basic needs.

On 18 June, an agreement was reached after tough negotiations between the employer, the Labour Minister and the oil sector union affiliated to the Union des syndicats du Tchad (UST), PETROSYNAT, meeting some of the strikers' demands and enabling a return to work.

Negotiations endlessly postponed: In August, Chadian workers employed at China National Petroleum Corporation International (CNPCI) went on strike for several days in protest at the management's refusal to hold negotiations, despite the commitment made at the end of 2010 to open a dialogue with workplace representatives as soon as production was launched in July. The workers' grievances were only partially addressed in the end. Ramadji Naorngué, a workplace representative, denounced the Chinese group and the subcontractors, which "come here and take away almost half of the employees' wages, not even leaving them enough to live on."

Former TCC employees brutalised and arrested: Former employees of Tchad Cameroon Constructor (TCC), previously subcontracted by ESSO-Chad, protested on several occasions in front of government ministries and the oil facilities to demand their wage arrears. Their sit-ins were repeatedly dispersed with brutal force. On 9 November, for example, according to the umbrella group of human rights associations ADH, 19 people were injured in demonstrations in Doba and Bébidja and police made 18 arrests. Earlier in the month, on the night of 4 to 5 November, two trade union representatives, Boukar Barka, general secretary of the Confédération syndicale du Tchad, and Mangaral Nadjiam, president of the association of former oil field construction workers, were arrested. Mangaral Nadjiam was released the following day, but Boukar Barka was imprisoned for over 40 days for supporting former TCC workers.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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