Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2018, 12:53 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Senegal

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Senegal, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 22 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: 12,500,000
Capital: Dakar
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Interference by the authorities and political parties led to the creation of new organisations, usually either not very representative or not representative at all, undermining social dialogue. Trade union activists were suspended, dismissed and beaten. Union recognition is subject to the authorities' discretion, and the right to strike is very limited.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association and the right to strike are guaranteed in the Constitution but are marred by a number of restrictions. The Ministry of Interior has discretionary powers to grant or refuse registration of a union, and the registration procedure is often very long. Collective agreements are signed between workers and employers under state arbitration.

The right to strike is heavily restricted, most notably due to a provision in the 2001 Constitution which stipulates that strike action must not infringe upon the freedom to work or jeopardise the enterprise. The authorities also have broad powers to requisition workers to replace those on strike.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: President Wade's ruling coalition suffered serious losses in local council elections in March, leading to a government reshuffle. The price of basic goods rose again. An Export Processing Zone (EPZ) is due to become operational in 2010.

Political interference and frequent breakdown of social dialogue: Many unions have complained of the government's authoritarian attitude and the lack of any real social dialogue. The country's principal organisations have criticised manoeuvres by politicians, and attempts to take over and divide the trade union movement. At least three national centres were created in 2009, making a total of 20. The education sector, which has already suffered severe budget cuts, was the main victim of political interference. The most representative organisations responded by grouping together. The holding of trade union elections is considered a priority. In April, Mamadou Diouf, General Secretary of the National Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Senegal (CSA) protested that the authorities ignored his organisation.

Persistent anti-union discrimination: The National Workers Confederation of Senegal (CNTS) pointed out that some trade unions had been recognised without even holding an assembly or congress, while other organisations had had to wait years for official recognition. The National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Senegal (UNSAS) mentioned that in many enterprises workers still did not have the right or the possibility of electing their staff representatives, that activists were stalked, threatened with transfers or dismissed and that despite court rulings ordering the reinstatement of dismissed trade unionists managers were slow to comply.

Trade unionist unlawfully detained by hospital director: On 19 January, Souleymane Djigueul, leader of the local branch of the General Workers' Federation of Senegal (FGTS) was locked in the office of and beaten by Mourade Dièye Guèye, the director of the Abass Ndao hospital in Dakar and a high ranking town councillor. The workers had criticised the management of the establishment and two months of salary arrears. Social unrest continued at the hospital however, as in the rest of the health sector. At the end of the year, a demonstration by the Health Workers' Federation, grouping members of several national trade union centres, was organised to demand the urgent application of measures promised by the government since 2006 and the signature of a decree to appoint a new director at the Abass Ndao hospital.

Five staff representatives sacked for calling a strike: The "Les Salins" company in Kaolack dismissed five staff representatives following a strike on 16 November. According to the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Senegal (UNSAS) and the National Workers' Confederation of Senegal (CNTS) who took up the workers' defence, a strike notice was duly filed within the prescribed time limit.

Four representatives of railway workers union suspended: On 2 December, management at the railway company Transrail suspended Cheik NDjene, general secretary of the Railway Workers' Federation (FETRAIL) and Mamadou Madiodio Diagne and Mame Demba Diakhaté, general secretary and administrative secretary respectively of the Autonomous Railway Workers' Union (SATRAIL) for "inciting a work stoppage, obstructing the smooth running of the company and organising a general assembly without prior authorisation". A few weeks earlier, another FETRAIL representative, Abdoul Azizz Diagne was suspended for insulting the company director. Sixty members of the railway workers' unions were also suspended. Several trade unionists were harassed by police as they tried to get to their workplace. One official was severely wounded. According to the unions, the Belgian director of this private company (operating in Senegal and Mali) had ignored a formal warning by the labour inspector that the sanctions were illegal. A recovery plan, the announcement of several hundred dismissals and broken promises were the cause of the dispute which lasted several months.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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