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2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Benin

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 - Benin, 20 November 2008, available at: [accessed 23 November 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: 7,800,000
Capital: Porto Novo
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The Minister of Justice refused dialogue with strikers. A prefect did not deign to answer repeated requests for registration from a union in the informal economy.

Trade union rights in law

Government approval: The Labour Code recognises the right to form and join trade unions. At present, unions must deposit their statutes with the Ministry of the Interior to obtain legal recognition, or they will be penalised with a fine. The government agreed to modify the Labour Code so that unions would not have to seek government approval before being legalised, but has not yet done so.

Seafarers: Seafarers are excluded from the Labour Code, as they are covered by the Merchant Marine Code which does give them the right to organise, but does not appear to explicitly recognise the right to collective bargaining.

Limitations on the right to strike: The right to strike is recognised in both the public and private sectors. Three days' strike notice is required and unions must say in advance how long a strike will last. The law allows the government to requisition civil servants in the event of a strike. It also allows the government to declare a strike illegal for specific causes such as a threat to social peace and order.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Brutal treatment of strikers by a minister: On 25 May, Nestor Dako, the Minister of Justice, chose disdain rather than dialogue when faced by a group of demonstrators who had come to remind him of their demands. Activists from the legal services and allied workers' union (Syndicat national des travailleuses et travailleurs des services judiciaires et assimilés du Bénin, SYNTRAJAB) had been on strike since 7 May to protest against their poor working conditions. Supported by their national confederation, the Union nationale des syndicats des travailleurs du Bénin (UNSTB), the strikers had organised a march calling at the Ministry of Justice and ending up with a sit-in at the Ministry of Labour and the Civil Service. Refusing to meet the demonstrators, Nestor Dako attempted to leave his ministry by car. As the group prevented him leaving, he ordered his driver to drive through them. Three trade unionists, including Emmanuel Zounon, the General Secretary of the UNSTB, were stuck in a dangerous position between the ministry car and a UNSTB vehicle.

Prior authorisation: The administrative formalities for registering trade unions are delaying or preventing the legalisation of new workers' organisations. At the end of the year, the union representing vendors at Ouando market (SYNAMAMO-BENIN), which had sent its statutes in August to the prefecture of Ouémé-Plateau, was still waiting to be registered, despite the intervention of the UNSTB, its national centre.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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