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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Burundi

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Burundi, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 23 January 2018]
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: 8,300,000
Capital: Bujumbura
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Violations of fundamental human rights and in particular violations of trade union rights multiplied throughout the year. The two main trade union centres condemned attempts to destroy the trade union movement by the creation of yellow trade unions. There was widespread government interference, particularly in the education sector where institutions harassed and threatened teachers to become members of these new organisations. Trade union activities in the public sector are strictly regulated.


Despite basic trade union rights being recognised in the Constitution and the Labour Code, numerous excessive restrictions apply. All unions must have at least 50 members, and all union representatives must have worked in the sector for at least one year. Freedom of association in the public sector is regulated by Law No. 1/015 of 29 November 2002, which stipulates that for civil servants' unions to be recognised, they must be registered with the Civil Service Ministry, which is their employer.

Although the right to collective bargaining is guaranteed in the Labour Code, bargaining on wages is not possible in the public sector as the government sets wages.

Though the Constitution recognises the right to strike, workers can only go on strike when, and if, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security says it is satisfied that they have exhausted all other means of dispute resolution. This effectively gives the Ministry the power to veto all strikes. Finally, in the public sector, solidarity strikes are prohibited, and the government can requisition striking workers.


Background: In June, Pierre Nkurunziza, the incumbent President was re-elected for a second term following elections which were boycotted by the opposition parties. Human rights' violations escalated throughout the year.

Right to strike suspended: On 27 April, the government announced that it was suspending the right to strike during the election, a decision criticised by the education unions on strike since 8 March. A few days earlier, the authorities had put pressure on the teachers to accept difficult economic conditions. The teachers' claims related to the improvement of their working and living conditions in accordance with an agreement reached with the government on July 2002, which has not been implemented.

Political intimidation and the creation of yellow trade unions in the health and education sectors: The two principal trade union centres, the Confédération des syndicats du Burundi (COSYBU) and the Confédération syndicale du Burundi (CSB) have criticised the authorities' constant interference in trade union affairs. Trade unions with close ties to the ruling party have been created in the health and education sectors. Workers are harassed by their employers to join the ruling party and these new organisations. Consequently, during a meeting in Rumonge in the Bururi region on 19 December of over 500 teachers organised by the sector's five main trade unions, participants explained how they had been victims of intimidation by management, who threatened to transfer them if they did not join these new trade unions supported by the ruling party.

Trade union activist still not reinstated: At the end of 2010, Juvénal Rududura, Vice-President of the Syndicat des personnels non-magistrats du ministère de la Justice (SPMJB), an affiliate of the Confédération des syndicats du Burundi (COSYBU) had still not been reinstated. His criminal record has not been expunged and he has not been given his job back. He was imprisoned for ten months in 2008 and 2009 for criticising anti-union repression and corruption in the recruitment process on television.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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