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2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Senegal

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 20 November 2008
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Senegal, 20 November 2008, available at: [accessed 15 December 2017]
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: 12,400,000
Capital: Dakar
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Although the government has tried to convey a positive social image by advocating concerted approaches at national level, it showed much less openness towards sectoral bargaining or application of the right to strike.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association and the right to strike are guaranteed in the Constitution. There are limitations, however.

Limitations on freedom of association: A trade union cannot exist legally without the Ministry of the Interior's approval and the public authorities have broad powers to dissolve trade unions by administrative authority.

Minors over 16 years of age may join trade unions unless their membership is opposed by a parent. This does not conform to international labour standards.

Strike restrictions: Similarly, the right to strike is recognised but heavily restricted, notably by a provision in the 2001 Constitution, which stipulates that strike action must not infringe upon the freedom to work or jeopardise the enterprise. Private sector unions must give three days' notice, and civil service unions must give at least one month's notice. The authorities also have broad powers to requisition workers from private enterprises, public services and establishments to ensure the safety of persons and goods; the maintenance of public order; the continuity of public services and the country's essential needs. This is a broad definition that is open to abuse. The law also states that workplaces, or their immediate surroundings, may not be occupied during a strike.

The right to collective bargaining is recognised.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Background: In February, Abdulaye Wade was re-elected President. In June, the political opposition boycotted the general elections, fearing they would be manipulated. The social climate continued to worsen with the rising price of food and essential services.

Collective bargaining blocked: In recent years the government has blocked negotiations with certain sectors, and it has unilaterally changed a number of provisions in the National Charter on Social Dialogue of 2002. The status quo is particularly disturbing in the education sector, given that the united teachers' front ("Intersyndicale") carried out numerous protests throughout the year to demand an improvement of their working conditions and the honouring of an agreement signed in 2003.

Right to strike flouted, police violence and several women teachers assaulted: In January, in Dakar, 11 members of a retired soldiers' association were injured by the police during a protest march. The former soldiers had been planning to march on the Presidency building to demand the updating of their invalidity pensions promised by the government. Four demonstrators were arrested, then quickly released.

On 15 May, in Ziguinchor in the south of the country, some women teachers were beaten up by police after the disruption of a demonstration called by the united teachers' front. Seven of them were injured, including one pregnant woman and another who had to be hospitalised. The teachers were going back to the head office of their association when they were attacked. The united front had called a spontaneous meeting in the town centre, after learning a few hours earlier that the permission they had been granted for holding a demonstration had just been withdrawn. The local authorities justified the change of decision by saying that the Prime Minister was currently staying in the town. Around the same time, teachers' demonstrations were also banned in Dakar, Saint-Louis and Tanbacouda supposedly for "threatening public order".

On 21 November, street vendors poured into the shopping district in Sandaga, Dakar, to protest against the Presidency's order banning them from the city centre. In the ensuing struggles with police at least two demonstrators were seriously injured and several dozen others were arrested. Following the unrest, the government banned the demonstration planned for that afternoon by the main national confederations against the high cost of living, which had initially been authorised. But it was already too late, and for the second time that day the police brutally repressed the demonstrators.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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