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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Senegal

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 - Senegal, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 14 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: 12,500,000
Capital: Dakar
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The proliferation of trade union centres is weakening social dialogue. The issue of trade union representativeness and the holding of credible trade union elections was the subject of serious concern throughout the year. Workers were threatened or dismissed on account of their union activities or for taking part in strikes. The right to strike is extremely limited.


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.


Background: Senegal, which celebrated 50 years of independence in 2010, is still one of the world's poorest countries. Forced begging is a scourge affecting over 50,000 children.

Representativeness, the major issue of the day: The legal haze surrounding union registration has led to all manner of confusion and abuses. Even totally unrepresentative unions have been recognised as national centres. There were 19 by the end of the year, for fewer than 500,000 salaried employees. The government has granted all of them partnership status. In some instances, unions have rejoined their former centres, but the fragmentation of the trade union movement as a result of personal or political interests lies at the root of many trade union rights violations. Many employers have exploited the flaws in the legislation to pit organisations against each other or to support bogus unions.

Union activists consider the holding of union elections in early 2011 to be crucial. The trade union centres have secured their adjournment on several occasions, considering there to be insufficient guarantees to ensure their fairness. At the end of 2010, several union leaders called into question the government's impartiality in the organisation of the ballot.

Trade unionists threatened and dismissed: Several centres reported that workers were often stopped from joining the unions of their choice, faced with pressure and intimidation of all kinds at the hands of their employers. The CNTS denounced the relentless tactics deployed by the management at the paper mill SIPS (Société industrielle de papeterie du Sénégal) to stop workers from joining the national print workers' union, the Syndicat national des travailleurs des industries polygraphiques. Two members of the agro-industrial workers' union, the Syndicat national des travailleurs des complexes agro-industriels alimentaires, were dismissed following their election as union representatives at the CSS sugar company (Compagnie sucrière sénégalaise). At Transrail, Ousmane Sene, the deputy general secretary of SATRAIL, affiliated to the national union of autonomous trade unions of Senegal UNSAS (Union nationale des syndicats autonomes du Sénégal), was dismissed in February. The railway company had already dismissed several trade unionists during the previous year on account of their activism.

Two union leaders intimidated in turbulent telecom sector: On 13 July, following a strike at the national telecommunications company SONATEL, Ndèye Founé Diallo, a member of the Executive Bureau of the SONATEL Intersyndicale was interrogated for several hours by the Criminal Investigations Department. On 30 September, the management at Global Voice filed defamation charges against Mamadou Aidara Diop, the president of the Intersyndicale. The union leader had denounced the establishment of the U.S. group and the risk it represents for thousands of jobs, direct and indirect. At the end of December, Global Voice dropped the charges.

Forty-three workers dismissed for taking part in sit-in: Forty-three workers from the ICS (Industries chimiques du Sénégal) chemical firm were dismissed at the beginning of November in Mboro for staging "a work stoppage in blatant violation of the rules". The workers had organised a sit-in to protest against the non application of a Memorandum of Understanding signed two years earlier.

Government interference in agricultural union movement: The confederation of autonomous trade unions of Senegal CSA (Confédération des syndicats autonomes du Sénégal) criticised the authorities' policy of ostracising its organisation. Several of its affiliates have still not received official recognition or are excluded from consultations. The most blatant case relates to the agricultural workers' union SCEMS (Syndicat des cultivateurs, éleveurs et maraîchers), which is still being sidelined, whilst the agricultural union set up by the government in 2009 was imposed as the only social partner throughout 2010. A government post was even created for this purpose: that of deputy minister in charge of farmers' organisations and the unionisation of agricultural workers, held by Khadim Gueye until June.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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