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2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Côte d'Ivoire

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 - Côte d'Ivoire, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 23 November 2017]
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: 21,100,000
Capital: Yamoussoukro
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The State as an employer did not respect its commitment towards the public sector unions and arbitrarily and excessively repressed strikes. Dock workers and their organisation were also victims of trade union rights violations. Despite several shortcomings, fundamental trade union rights are guaranteed in law.

Trade union rights in law

The Constitution of 23 July 2000 guarantees freedom of association and the right to strike in both the private and the public sector, but the guarantees are frustrated by a number of restrictions. Foreigners may not hold union office until they have been residents for at least three years, unless there is a reciprocal trade union and worker protection agreement with the foreigners' home country.

Workers are vulnerable to anti-union discrimination, as the Labour Code does not provide for sufficiently dissuasive sanctions. Also, all labour disputes must go through a complicated conciliation and mediation procedure. The President of the Republic may submit strikes in essential services to arbitration, but the Labour Code does not contain a list of services considered to be essential.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: The establishment of electoral lists was not settled. The presidential election was postponed twice. Despite the appointment of civilian administrators by the government, the north of the country remains under de facto control of the former rebels, who control natural resources and levy taxes.

Public sector agreements ignored: The health and education sectors and the civil service were frequently paralysed by strikes over the failure to meet promises on pay, statutes and legal advantages. Repeated strikes by education workers resulted each time in commitments by the government or the President of the Republic. However, the agreements were never implemented and the strikers were punished (see "Violations 2009").

Dockers' strike meets repression: Workers at the Abidjan and San Pedro ports went on strike on 2 June. Further to the failure of the recruitment agency Sempa-Bmond to meet its commitments, contained in an agreement signed on 10 May with the dock workers' union the Collectif national des dockers et dockers transit (CNDD), thousands of employees stopped work. The union stepped up its action when Sempa-Bmod resorted to intimidation, threatening to dismiss the strikers and replace them. The authorities took repressive measures, arresting 13 "ringleaders" and wounding dozens of dockers. The violence left about 60 people injured, several of them severely. The CNDD ended the strike on 17 June after mediation led by the President of the Côte d'Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo.

Two union leaders dismissed by a Bouygues subsidiary: On 20 July management at the Ivory Coast Water Distribution Company SODECI, belonging to the French group Bouygues, dismissed François Yao, general secretary of the National Union of Electricity Workers (SYNASEG), and Billé Amon, general secretary of the National Union of Water Workers (SYNASTRASE). The two leaders had been suspended since the beginning of the year for no real reason other than their union activism. The SYNASEG had won a labour agreement in 2008 after three years of negotiations. The authorities called for the reinstatement of both trade unionists, but by the end of the year management had still not lifted its sanctions.

Public sector strikers punished: Four officials from the National Union of Secondary School Teachers (SYNESCI) were arrested and manhandled by the police during a strike from 12 November to 2 December organised by the education unions. They remained in detention until the day of their trial on 17 December. They were given six-month suspended prison sentences, even though the agreement that put an end to the strike stipulated that they should be released immediately.

In the health sector, broken promises radicalised and mobilised all health care workers belonging to the Health Sector Trade Unions Coordination. On 15 December, three days after the strike began, the President of the Republic decreed the requisition of the strikers, threatening them with sanctions. The strikers protested, declaring that it was a violation of the right to strike. The Coordination did suspend the strike however until 19 December.

A third industrial dispute also ended in repression. On 8 December, a strike by the Local Government Unions Collective (the fourth in the year) led to the arrest of 47 civil servants. They were held in custody until the court gave its ruling on 22 December: 41 of the accused, including many women, were given two-month suspended sentences, and the remainder were acquitted.

The trade union rights of court clerks were also flouted. When their demands did not produce any tangible results, they called a strike until the end of the year. The authorities responded on 14 December by suspending their salaries and announcing the recruitment of new clerks. Despite the suspension of the strike on 16 December, the clerks continued to face threats.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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