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2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Djibouti

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Djibouti, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52caf32.html [accessed 30 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: 848,000
Capital: Djibouti
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The exercise of trade union rights remains very difficult.

Trade union rights in law

New Labour Code undermines fundamental rights: The new Labour Code, which came into force in January 2006, contravenes the fundamental rights upheld by the ILO, including those on freedom of association, collective bargaining and organising. At no point were the social partners involved in the drafting work on the Code.

Government authorisation required: Under the new Code, setting up a trade union requires authorisation from the Ministry of the Interior, the Employment Ministry, the Labour Inspectorate, the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General. Any change in the constitution or composition of the leadership of a union has to follow the same authorisation procedure. And should any of the ministries so require, the Attorney General can still refer the application to the civil court to seek the dissolution of the union.

Salary suspended for taking up union post: Article 41, paragraph 8, provides for the suspension of the employment contract and salary of any worker who takes up a union post.

Right to strike limited: While the right to strike is recognised, it is curtailed. The authorities have broad powers to requisition public servants who are on strike, and unions planning strike action must inform the Ministry of the Interior 48 hours in advance.

The Labour Code does not apply to workers in export processing zones.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: There were no surprises in the February parliamentary elections which resulted in victory for the presidential party, the only one on the list, the opposition having boycotted the elections. Following troubles on the Eritrean border, President Guelleh declared war with his neighbour.

Criticism from the ILO: All of the ILO monitoring bodies have repeatedly expressed concern at the serious assaults on the principles of freedom of association in Djibouti. Whether it is a case of speeding up an inquiry, providing explanations or confirming that it will amend articles in the Labour Code, the government's replies have never satisfied the ILO. In January an ILO mission to Djibouti aroused hopes of progress, but the commitments made by the government, such as the reinstatement of unfairly dismissed workers and trade unionists, have not been met. The mission does seem however to have paved the way to the gradual establishment of a framework for social dialogue.

Using the law against trade unionists: According to the Labour Code, anyone who been sentenced to prison for more than three months for a number of crimes such as fraud or breach of trust cannot become a union official. As the UDT points out, given the judicial authorities' record of sentencing people on trumped-up charges, this regulation can in practice become a means of restricting fundamental union rights.

Appointment of delegates to the ILO Conference: Obstacles to the exercise of organising rights have had a considerable impact on trade union activities. At the International Labour Conference, the Credentials Committee had before it a complaint about the appointment of UDT delegates to the Conference.

Harassment: Trade unionists are subjected to constant harassment, through dismissals, downgrading and salary cuts. The government accuses union activists of being enemies of the state and does not hesitate to arrest and detain them.

Strikes: In practice strikes are brutally repressed.

Harassment of leaders weakens unions: By repressing and intimidating the country's top trade union leaders, the authorities have badly weakened the organisations they lead, virtually preventing them from functioning. Following the dismissal of its General Secretary Hassan Cher Hared, for example, and the departure of two members of its Executive Committee, the postal workers' union had to set up new Executive Committee, led by Abdourahman Ali Omar, reinstated in his post after a period of suspension. Workers' contributions to the union were cut off by management. The union no longer had the capacity to defend the rights of the postal workers, who remain the only public sector employees who do not have the right to receive benefits from the social security agency (Organisme de la prestation sociale OPS).

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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