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2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Burkina Faso

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2007
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Burkina Faso, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca3ec.html [accessed 29 August 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: 12,800,000
Capital: Ouagadougou
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

At the national level the government sent a very negative signal for collective bargaining by failing to meet any of the demands negotiated with unions in 2005. It took three general strikes and lengthy negotiations to reach a solution. The unions who organised the strikes faced threats and intimidation, leading them to file an ILO complaint against the limitations imposed on the right to strike in law, and abuses in practice.

Trade union rights in law

The right to form trade unions is recognised in law. Only army personnel, the police and other security personnel do not enjoy that right, but this is not considered a violation of international labour standards.

Right to strike restricted: The right to strike is recognised. However the 2004 Labour Code contains a very restrictive definition of the right to strike, stating in article 351 that any stoppage of work that does not correspond to an occupational claim is illegal. This provision, and its use to sanction workers who take strike action on any other issue, prompted six national trade union confederations to file a complaint with the ILO in May 2006. The ILO has recommended that the government amend this section of the law to change this very narrow definition of the right to strike.

The government also has the right to requisition civil servants in the event of a strike. This can be applied to all civil servants, not just those who exercise authority in the name of the state or those whose work, if interrupted, would endanger life or safety. The ILO has recommended to the government that it should limit its powers to requisition public workers to these very specific circumstances. In addition, some state employees are banned from striking, notably uniformed personnel. The 2004 Labour Code bans solidarity strikes and political strikes.

Strike ban for magistrates: Magistrates do not have the right to strike, since a major reform of the justice system in 2001. The change was prompted by a magistrates' strike in April that year.

Collective bargaining: Unions have the right to engage in collective bargaining for wages and other working conditions.

Trade union rights in practice

Authorities seek to undermine unions: In practice, trade unionists are often subjected to intimidation. In recent years, some union leaders have been transferred away from their membership base and trade union meetings have been raided. There have been reports that the authorities have sought to undermine or weaken trade unions, especially during strike action. In several cases, the privatisation of state enterprises has been undertaken without adequate trade union consultation, if at all. Protest action has often resulted in workers and their union representatives being victimised, suspended or dismissed. Media workers, especially journalists, have also faced considerable difficulties.

Collective bargaining – government fails to respect national agreement: On 1 May 2006, the union centres and the independent unions decided not to present their yearly list of grievances to the government, as those of 1 May 2005 had still not been met. Negotiations between the government and the unions on a range of issues, including wages, pensions, taxes, freedom of association and the right to strike, broke down on 5 May 2006. The government then unilaterally increased fuel prices, although this issue had been high on the list of the unions' minimum claims. This triggered a 48-hour nationwide strike on 23-24 May, followed by another on 10 June and finally one on 27 September, which led to the resumption of negotiations on 28 September 2006. An agreement was reached, but the unions reported that they were still waiting to see whether the government would live up to its commitments.

Violations in 2006

Threats and intimidation over national workers' strike: The six national trade union centres who organised the national strikes on 23 and 24 May, the General Labour Federation (CGT-B), the National Confederation of Workers of Burkina (CNTB), the Trade Union Confederation of Burkina Faso (CSB), Labour Force/National Union of Free Trade Unions (FO/UNSL), the National Organisation of Free Trade Unions (ONSL) and the Trade Union of Workers of Burkina Faso (USTB), reported that their leaders and members faced threats and intimidation over their action. Employers also sought to undermine the strike by requisitioning large numbers of workers.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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