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2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Congo, Republic of

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 - Congo, Republic of, 6 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fd88958c.html [accessed 27 November 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: 4,034,000
Capital: Brazzaville

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
Arrests: 27
Dismissals: 18

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher

Introduction

The national social dialogue committee is no more than a facade, a poor attempt to disguise fundamental workers' rights violations. Labour disputes often turned violent. Arrests and intimidation were frequent.

Background

President Nguesso announced that oil production was likely to fall as of 2012. He also recognised that the economy was far too dependent on this sector. Legislative elections are scheduled for 2012.

Trade union rights in law

The Constitution and the Labour Code provide for basic trade union rights, although some workers, including some public administration employees, are excluded. The law bans anti-union discrimination, but does not provide for sufficiently dissuasive sanctions and is not backed up by effective and rapid procedures. Although the deduction of trade union dues from employees' pay is not prohibited by law, it is, in practice, excluded from collective bargaining.

In order to call a lawful strike, all conciliation and non-binding arbitration procedures must have been exhausted. For strikes in services that are "essential for protecting the general interest", a minimum service must be established. The minimum service is organised by the employer and refusal to take part is considered gross misconduct.

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

In practice

Social dialogue charade: A national social dialogue committee was set up in 2011. The heads of the main trade union organisations are associated with it. Sector-level trade unions have, however, often denounced the poor level of consultation with ministers in charge of their sectors as well as the intimidation they suffer. Most workers, moreover, are not represented.

Indigenous people still used as slaves: According to a report by the Congolese Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), the plight of Congolese pygmies is extremely worrying. These indigenous people, who only form two percent of the population, are exploited and discriminated against by the Bantu majority. The report reveals that forced and bonded labour still exist. A law taking nearly eight years to draw up was passed in 2011 but has not yet come into effect.

Violations

Repressed road construction workers' strike descends into violence:

In February, Congolese workers employed in the construction of the Pointe-Noire-Brazzaville road by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSGEC) staged a strike in protest at their poor working conditions. Negotiations between the employer, the local authority and the union led to an agreement whereby the employer pledged to raise pay, sign employment contracts by 1 April and keep on all the striking workers. The company failed, however, to respect the agreement and on 2 April an outstanding majority of the 2,000 workers downed tools. On 4 April, around a hundred of them went to the prefecture to request mediation. They were driven back by security forces, who reportedly fired in the air but nonetheless wounded two strikers. The following day, the workers unleashed their fury, ransacking equipment, assaulting two managers and taking several vehicles to the Dolisie court to try to find a judge. On 8 April, the police took advantage of payday to arrest 18 workers presumed to be strike ringleaders and rioters.

A total of 23 people were prosecuted and sentenced to jail. They expressed regret over the incidents but also over the authorities' failure to mediate. The official trade union centres did not intervene in the case.

Six waste collection workers imprisoned: On 13 May, six waste collection workers from the Pro Brazza cleaning firm were arrested during a demonstration at which around a hundred employees threw stones at the City Council in protest at the non-payment of their wages owing to a disagreement between the Council and the subcontractor over the terms of the concession agreement. On 16 May, the protest was stepped up until, at the end of the afternoon, the strikers finally secured the payment of their wage arrears and their colleagues' release.

Agreement imposed in banking sector: At the beginning of August, during difficult collective bargaining negotiations, several trade union representatives from the bank workers' union, Fédération syndicale des travailleurs des banques, assurances et caisses du Congo (FESYTRABAC), affiliated to the Confédération syndicale des travailleurs du Congo (CSTC), were briefly arrested on leaving the meeting to consult their members. One of the unionists, Jean Aimé Moanda, was questioned by the police once again at Brazzaville airport, where he was working, and was forced to sign a memorandum of understanding on the collective agreement.

Three drivers arrested for planning a strike: On 7 August, three drivers were arrested and held at a police station in Pointe-Noire. They were accused of wanting to stage a transport strike in response to the unilateral decision to re-introduce taxes.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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