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2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Côte d'Ivoire

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 - Côte d'Ivoire, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca37a.html [accessed 23 July 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: 17,100,000
Capital: Yamoussoukro
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The government interfered in the affairs of a teachers' union, questioning the legitimacy of its leader and occupying its offices. Striking primary school teachers were threatened with sanctions and striking maritime police faced intimidation. Heavy legislative restrictions hampering the right to strike remain in force.

Trade union rights in law

The Constitution of 23 July 2000 guarantees the right to form trade unions and the right to strike in both the public and private sectors.

The labour laws give workers, the liberal professions and self-employed workers who do not employ staff, the right to form and join trade unions. Only military personnel and police officers are excluded from these provisions, which is not in contravention of international labour standards. Employers are prohibited from applying pressure either for or against a trade union. Only Côte d'Ivoire nationals, nationals of a country with which reciprocal trade union and worker protection agreements have been concluded, and foreigners who have been legal residents in the country for at least three years, may exercise administrative and managerial functions in a trade union. Workers may "form unions under any name whatsoever".

Right to strike – restrictions: Strikes are prohibited until a complicated, conciliation and mediation procedure has been exhausted, and a notice period of six working days has elapsed.

The President of the Republic may, if he considers that the strike could threaten public order or the general interest, submit the dispute to arbitration. This may be the case when "the strike affects an essential service whose interruption could endanger the lives, health or security of all or a part of the population ", and in an "acute national crisis". The Labour Code does not list the services considered to be essential.

In the public sector, the right to strike is also recognised, once again with the obligation to respect the six day notice period. Staggered work stoppages or rolling strikes are prohibited. A minimum service is required, in particular in public hospitals.

Collective bargaining: All workers, with the exception of military personnel and police officers, have the right to collective bargaining. The ILO has noted that the Labour Code does not provide sufficient sanctions to deter employers taking measures against trade unionists for trade union activities.

Trade union rights in practice

In practice, only a small proportion of the labour force is unionised. The continuing civil war is clearly undermining any effort by the trade unions to exercise their rights, including organising and collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining agreements have been concluded in the majority of major companies and public sector organisations, however they are not applied consistently across the country, owing to the current instability.

Violations in 2006

Background: Since the armed revolt in September 2002, the country has been racked by chaos and violence, principally over ethnic discrimination and land rights. The year 2006 was marked by a political and military stalemate between the government, controlling the south of the country, and the northern-based New Forces rebels. This resulted in continuous human rights violations, impunity, and yet another postponement of elections that were to have taken place in October 2006.

Trade union office occupied by government authorities: From 4 May 2006, the office of the "Syndicat National des Enseignants du Second Degré (National Union of Secondary Education Teachers – SYNESCI) were occupied by government authorities. The Minister of Education later claimed that it was because the ministry had doubts as to the legitimacy of the SYNESCI General Secretary. The same person was re-elected in September 2006 as General Secretary by the union, yet the occupation of its offices was still continuing at the year's end. SYNESCI members have been subjected to intimidation and harassment for years.

Militia hired to intimidate strikers: Pro-government militia were reportedly hired by the Director General of the maritime police to intimidate and harass strikers. The strike took place in July 2006 to demand the departure of the Director-General after he had been accused of embezzlement.

Strikers threatened with sanctions: The Minister of Education threatened striking primary school teachers with sanctions if they failed to return to work. The strike began on 9 November when the Mouvement des Instituteurs pour la Défense de leurs Droits (Movement of Primary School Teachers for the Defence of their rights – MIDD) called for a nation-wide strike, demanding the recruitment of additional full-time teachers, as well as a number of benefits. Classes did not resume in December 2006, despite the threats.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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