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2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Madagascar

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 - Madagascar, 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: 20,200,000
Capital: Antananarivo
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 111 – 138 – 182

Restrictions on the right to strike and new legislation on export processing zones. Within the space of just two months, the labour legislation saw the introduction of two new instruments that can only lead to a deterioration in trade union rights.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: The Constitution of April 2007 guarantees both public and private sector workers, with the exception of seafarers and workers providing so-called essential services, the right to join and form trade unions. However, according to the current Labour Code, the establishment, organisation and operation of trade unions is determined by decree. Radio and television broadcasting and banking are included in the so-called essential services classification, largely exceeding the limits set in the ILO definition.

Collective bargaining: The Labour Code provides for the right to collective bargaining.

The Labour Code does not cover seafarers. Under the Maritime Code, they do have the right to conclude collective agreements, but their right to organise is not specifically recognised in law.

New restriction on the right to strike enshrined in the Constitution: Article 33 of the Constitution adopted in April 2007 stipulates that "the right to strike is recognised without prejudice to the principle of continuity of public services or to the security and essential needs of the Nation". This provision is much too broad, as it covers all state employees and does not explicitly exclude private sector employees.

Interference by the authorities and use of arbitration procedures: Workers first have to exhaust the conciliation, mediation and arbitration procedures determined by the authorities. The government has the power to require public employees to work, in order to end or avert a strike, within the framework of its broad definition of "essential services".

The Labour Code prohibits anti-union discrimination.

New law passed on EPZs: In January, new legislation on export processing zones (EPZ) was passed without consulting the unions. The law restricts the rights of EPZ workers and authorises employers to require their employees to work longer hours or risk dismissal, opening the gateway to massive exploitation.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: In March, cyclone Ivan, one of the most devastating the country has ever seen, claimed some one hundred lives and left over 300,000 people homeless. During the same month, the authorities had announced that the country had just extracted its first barrels of oil. The wealth of Madagascar's subsoil attracts foreign companies in large numbers. However, the lack of transparency in the signing of deals raises fears that the local population will gain very little from it.

Trade union rights widely violated: The prevalence of subsistence farming and work in the informal economy, coupled with the relative indifference of the government and the contempt of employers for trade union activities mean that the labour legislation only applies to a small minority of the workers. Those that are covered by the labour legislation are still very vulnerable to anti-union discrimination.

Trade unions ignored in mining projects: Over recent years, trade unions have repeatedly criticised the lack of transparency in the agreements reached between the government and the mining corporations. The unions have never been consulted about these projects.

Numerous violations in the EPZs: In practice, trade union rights are flouted every day in EPZs due to a lack of political will and resources. Workers have great problems forming trade unions or engaging in collective bargaining. In factories where a union has managed to obtain recognition it is very difficult to hold union meetings, or they are categorically banned, and the unions complain about a lack of goodwill from employers who prevent any real dialogue between the social partners. Just one EPZ company out of the 62 in total is applying a collective agreement. The unions reported the persistence of abuses such as compulsory overtime, forced night work for women and sexual harassment.

Government interference in trade union affairs: A government decree, issued in 2000, requires trade unions to provide a list of their members, a copy of their statutes and the names of their serving officers. The government claimed this was merely to ensure that trade unions were representative. As the ILO pointed out, a record of membership dues should be sufficient for this purpose, as a list of names could make members more vulnerable to anti-union discrimination.

The country's trade unions also claim that the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Law interferes in the election of worker representatives to various tripartite bodies. It organises missions involving workers' representatives without the knowledge of their confederations – with a view to appointing them to regional tripartite bodies – and calls for candidates other than those already put forward by the confederations to serve on these bodies.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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