Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 10:07 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Eritrea

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 - Eritrea, 11 June 2009, 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: 5,000,000
Capital: Asmara
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138

Trade union freedoms are very hard to apply in practice given the nature of the country's dictatorial regime. The unstable situation of "neither war nor peace" is making it hard to exercise any civil and trade union rights.

Trade union rights in law

Unions permitted – with some restrictions: Labour law is governed by Labour Proclamation No 118, which gives workers the legal right to form unions. However, government policies restrict free associations. Unions are not allowed within the armed forces, the police force or other essential services; however, civil servants not involved in state administration will be given the right to organise when the draft Civil Service Proclamation is passed. The Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare must grant special approval for groups of 20 or more persons seeking to form a union, but the government generally does not oppose their formation.

The law allows strikes and the negotiation of collective agreements. According to Proclamation 118, a tripartite board composed of workers, employers and Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare officials resolves disputes. The complainant can pursue a case in court if it cannot be resolved by the tripartite board.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: The border disputes with Sudan, first, then Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti in 2008, prevented any hope of development and have created an unstable situation of "neither war nor peace". The country is ploughing all its scarce resources into a war economy. Any dissidence is implacably quashed.

Government interference: The activities of the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW) are closely monitored by the government. Some of its affiliated unions (such as those representing teachers, women, young people and general workers) come under close scrutiny from the government and the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice party. Free collective bargaining is thus rendered meaningless. The NCEW did, however, manage to negotiate the release and reinstatement of two of its three leaders.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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