Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017, 12:01 GMT

2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Guinea Bissau

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 - Guinea Bissau, 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: 1,700,000
Capital: Bissau
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111

The unions' calls for social dialogue, democracy and better working conditions have been met with threats and violence. This year the head office of a union centre, the Union nationale des travailleurs de Guinée Bissau (UNTGB), was raided. A striker was wounded by a bullet.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom to form and join independent trade unions: All workers are free to form and join independent trade unions. The government registers all unions. All unions are able to affiliate freely with national confederations and international trade union organisations. The vast majority of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture, and only a small percentage of workers are in formal employment and organised. Most unionised workers are government or parastatal employees.

No collective bargaining rights: The Constitution does not provide for, or protect, the right to bargain collectively. Instead, this is done by the tripartite National Council for Social Consultation that carries out consultations on wages and employment legislation. Most wages are established in bilateral negotiations between workers and employers.

Right to strike: Workers have the right to strike and are legally protected from retribution for strike activities. Prior notice of any strike must be given.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Background: In its latest report, the Human Rights' League of Guinea Bissau (LDHG) highlighted the arrogance of the government which has never taken the social partners' views into account in its decisions regarding workers' fundamental rights. The LDHG denounced corruption and drug trafficking as scourges that had assumed worrying proportions, along with the systematic violations of human rights.

No negotiations over salaries: One of the greatest sources of union dissatisfaction has been the constant failure of talks over the non-payment of wages, due to the inability of the tripartite National Council for Social Consultation to negotiate satisfactorily.

UNTGB office raided for intimidation purposes: During the night of 30 January, the head office of the UNTGB was raided. Nothing was removed and it was probably aimed at intimidating an organisation that is a regular butt for such attacks. In recent years, the union's leaders have been continuously harassed by the authorities. In 2006, the house of Desejado Lima da Costa, General Secretary of the UNTGB, was burnt down in suspicious circumstances.

A road haulier is injured by a bullet: On 31 October, in Bissau, a member of the road hauliers' union (Syndicat des transporteurs de Guinée-Bissau, SIMAPA) was injured by a bullet in an altercation between strikers and the police. The day before, the drivers had launched a strike in protest at the police harassment they were suffering. The SIMAPA had just agreed to suspend the strike and negotiate with the authorities when the incidents were sparked off. According to the union, more than 1,000 vehicles had been impounded so the drivers had got angry and the police charged them with their weapons.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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