Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Mali

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 - Mali, 6 June 2012, available at: [accessed 21 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: 15,370,000
Capital: Bamako

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

Murders: none reported
Attempted Murders: none reported
Threats: none reported
Injuries: none reported
Arrests: none reported
Imprisonments: none reported
Dismissals: none reported

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher


The UNTM made some headway in its efforts to secure justice and due compensation for members of the union. The CSTM is still being excluded from tripartite bodies. The exploitation of children in artisanal gold mines and anti-union repression in the industrial mining sector were denounced in 2011.


Mali, violating its international obligations, passed a new Family Code perpetuating discrimination against women in a range of areas, such as the legal age for marriage, custody of children and inheritance. The unions and civil society called on the government to scrap proposals for a constitutional reform to be put to referendum in 2012, at the same time as the first round of the presidential elections. They view these plans to strengthen the president's powers as anti-democratic.

Trade union rights in law

Although basic trade union rights are recognised in law, a number of excessive restrictions still apply. Both the 1992 Labour Code and the 2002 Law on the General Status of the Civil Servants allow workers to form and join unions, including non-nationals but excluding top managers of the Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest.

Collective bargaining is guaranteed for both private and public sector workers. All workers have the right to strike, including civil servants, and there are no restrictions as to the form of the strike. However, Article L.229 of the Labour Code grants the Minister of Labour the right to refer strikes to compulsory arbitration if they are liable to "jeopardize the normal operation of the national economy or involves a vital industrial sector". Furthermore, the categories of workers required to provide a minimum service during a strike include school principals.

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

In practice

Worst forms of child labour in artisanal gold mines: At least 20,000 children are working under extremely harsh and hazardous conditions in Mali's artisanal goldmines. In a report published in December, Human Rights Watch (HRW) highlighted that "children as young as six dig mining shafts, work underground, pull up heavy weights of ore, and carry, crush, and pan ore. Many children also work with mercury, a toxic substance, to separate the gold from the ore. Mercury attacks the central nervous system and is particularly harmful to children." HRW criticised the government's failure to enforce the laws and conventions on child labour. In June 2011, the government adopted a National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labour, but its implementation has been delayed.


Partial lifting of sanctions against UNTM representatives: The UNTM called off plans to strike on 4 October following lengthy negotiations with the government. Among the demands satisfied was remedy for the reprisals taken against trade union representatives during past strikes. The UNTM also secured the removal of the administrative penalties imposed on trade unionists at Aéroports du Mali and the re-examination of other cases involving several other companies.

Anti-union repression in mining sector: At a press conference on 21 November, the general secretary of the Confédération Syndicale des Travailleurs du Mali (CSTM) announced that trade union rights were being trampled in Mali. Taking the gold mining sector as an example, he denounced several companies for refusing to allow workers to elect union leaders. Employers had reportedly gone as far as to dismiss workers on these grounds at mines in Sadiola, Morila and Loulo.

CSTM still being excluded from tripartite bodies: The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, acting on a complaint filed by the Confédération syndicale des travailleurs du Mali (CSTM), called on the government to take every step necessary to ensure that the CSTM is allowed to take part in the tripartite consultation bodies in which it expresses an interest. The Committee also urged the government to "organize as soon as possible the professional elections provided for in the Labour Code, taking into account the principles of freedom of association". The CSTM denounced its exclusion from bodies such as the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (CESC), as well as social security structures, despite several Supreme Court rulings in the trade union confederation's favour.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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