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2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Senegal

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Senegal, 11 June 2009, available at: [accessed 21 October 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: 12,700,000
Capital: Dakar
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Trade unions denounced the failure to respect the agreements made between the social partners. The year 2008 was marked by a number of protests linked to the increased cost of living.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: 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.

Right to collective bargaining: The right to collective bargaining is recognised.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: On 23 December, riots broke out in Kédougou, in the southeast of the country. Young people clashed with the police. They were demanding better living conditions and greater transparency in the management of the region's mining resources. Two demonstrators were killed and many others were injured. On 23 December and the next few days, the security forces engaged in a veritable manhunt to arrest the "ringleaders".

Social dialogue framework needs to be consolidated: A tripartite framework for social dialogue has been established. A national social dialogue council, CNDS, is now up and running but has not yet succeeded in bringing an adequate response to workers' demands. On 22 May, Senegal's main trade union organisations held a general strike in protest at the refusal of the government and employers to review the wages of the majority of the workforce, despite the soaring prices for food and basic goods and services. The status quo is particularly disturbing in the education sector where the unions denounced the government's decision to carve up ministerial responsibilities, creating three different portfolios. In November, during a meeting bringing together representatives of the government, the unions and parents, etc., Mamadou Diouf of the single democratic teachers' union, Syndicat unique et démocratique des enseignants du Sénégal (SUDES), spoke out in protest against the collapse of the consultation process, which forces unions to issue strike notices as the only means of securing a meeting with the authorities. He also condemned their habit of systematically threatening to sanction strikers every time a strike is announced.

Unions harassed: On 19 June, the police blocked a meeting of Senegalese employees' unions from the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA). Security forces with anti-riot gear had surrounded the building where the ASECNA meeting was due to take place, near Dakar airport. The grouping of six trade union organisations, which had filed a ten-day strike notice, decided to postpone the meeting, "so as not to react to this act of provocation". In the days running up to the meeting, several leaders from the union grouping had been called in by the police for questioning over the strike notice. ASECNA, which has its head office in Dakar, comprises 17 African countries and France. It is in charge of air traffic control over an area covering 16 million km². The Senegalese authorities had been in dispute with ASECNA for several months and in May had taken over the management of the country's airports and airport taxes. The Minister for Air Transport had also demanded an audit of ASECNA's financial management, but had not, in the end, bothered to attend the audit meetings.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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