Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 16:28 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Guinea Bissau

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 - Guinea Bissau, 11 June 2009, available at: [accessed 16 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: 1,700,000
Capital: Bissau
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111

The authorities attempted to intimidate members of the national centre, l'Union nationale des travailleurs de Guinée Bissau (UNTGB), prior to the holding of a general strike.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: Workers are free to form and join independent trade unions. The government registers all unions and they are free to affiliate with national confederations and international trade union organisations.

No collective bargaining rights: The Constitution does not provide for, or protect, the right to bargain collectively. A tripartite National Council for Social Consultation holds 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 must be given of any strike to be held.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: A failed coup was staged in November, just after the legislative elections, which were won by the ruling party of President Viera. Crippled by political instability and corruption, Guinea Bissau – one of the poorest countries in the world – is a major transit country for drug trafficking between South America and Europe. The country was hit by a serious cholera epidemic during 2008. The vast majority of the population is engaged in subsistence farming, and only a small percentage of workers are unionised and in formal employment. Most unionised workers are government or parastatal employees.

No negotiations on wages: One of the greatest sources of union dissatisfaction is the constant failure of talks on the non-payment of wages.

Trade unionists targeted by the authorities: In October, the police stormed the premises of the national union centre, Union nationale des travailleurs de Guinée Bissau (UNTGB), shortly before the three-day general strike called in protest at the three-month wage arrears. It is not the first time that UNTGB members have faced attempts to destabilise the union. In 2007, their union offices were ransacked and in 2006 the house of Desejado Lima da Costa, General Secretary of the UNTGB, was burnt down under suspicious circumstances.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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