Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Madagascar

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Madagascar, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 21 January 2018]
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: 19,600,000
Capital: Antananarivo
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The authorities have systematically contested the legitimacy of strikes and trade union actions in an already aggravated socio-economic climate. Freedom of expression and assembly are severely restricted. In this context, it is difficult to exercise the right to organise. The four ITUC affiliates have made numerous calls for a peaceful end to the crisis, for negotiations and for an urgent response to the lack of decent work and increasing poverty.


Although the Labour Code provides for basic trade union rights, it also contains excessive restrictions. It is complemented by decrees. Both private and public sector workers have the right to join and form unions, except for seafarers and workers in essential services, the list of which exceeds the ILO definition. The establishment, organisation and operation of trade unions is determined by decree, and unions must provide lists of all their members, which exposes them to the possibility of antiunion abuse.

Industrial disputes must go through conciliation, mediation, and arbitration procedures determined by the authorities. Furthermore, state employees are not allowed to strike due to Article 33 of the 2007 Constitution, which 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", a provision that does not explicitly exclude private sector employees either. The authorities also have broad powers to requisition public employees in essential services.


Background: The country plunged into a serious political and economic crisis. Power has been in the hands of the self-proclaimed president, Andry Rajoelina and the High Transitional Authority since 2009. All international mediation attempts have failed. Sanctions have been put in place against the current regime. International aid has been suspended with the exception of emergency humanitarian aid. The withdrawal of trade concessions by the US awarded under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) have had serious repercussions in terms of business closures and job losses as the country is very dependent on textile exports.

In November, a referendum was organised which was boycotted by the three major opposition parties. It was supposed to represent the first step in a process to end the crisis with parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 2011. An unsuccessful military coup also took place at the same time. On 11 December, Andry Rajoelina promulgated the new constitution and the setting up of the fourth republic.

Trade union rights often flouted: The predominance of subsistence agriculture and the informal sector as well as the employers' contempt for trade union activities help to ensure that labour legislation only applies to a small minority of workers. Over recent years, trade unions have complained of the opacity of the agreements concluded between the authorities and the mining companies and the growth in the illegal export of rosewood. According to a recent report by the Conférence des travailleurs de Madagascar (CTM) and the Friedrich-EbertStiftung (FES), most of the collective agreements have been signed in public companies. With privatisation, however, many have become obsolete (rail, telecommunications, energy, etc.).

Significant reduction in activities and jobs in export processing zone companies: According to the Groupement des enterprises franches et partenaires (GEFP), the withdrawal of trade concessions by the US which had been awarded under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) caused the loss of almost 30,000 jobs. In 2009, companies in the export processing zones employed 133,000 workers, 80% of these workers were employed in the textile industry. It should be noted that in recent years, most reported cases of anti-trade union discrimination involved companies in the export processing zones.

Intimidation by the authorities: The Conférence des travailleurs malgaches (CTM), the platform which groups together the main trade union centres decided to boycott the 1 May celebrations and not to march in the streets, as they considered that democracy was in crisis in the country and fearing that the celebrations would be hijacked for political motives. The social climate deteriorated seriously throughout the year and the government tried to intimidate striking workers and trade union activists. Protest actions in certain sectors of the public service such as health and education caused by the worsening socio-economic climate have been systematically criticised by the authorities. They claimed that they had political motives and that the transition period was not an appropriate moment for demands.

Two trade unionists dismissed at Blue Maille: Two trade union activists, Henintsoa Randrioamahatsangy and Faridah Slimani from Blue Maille (clothing) in the export processing zone have been waiting the entire year to be reinstated. They were dismissed in 2009 on trumped up charges just after setting up the Syndicat autonome des travailleurs Miray Hina (SATMAH) affiliated to the Union des syndicats autonomes de Madagascar (USAM). The employer showed no hesitation in telling them that he would not tolerate a trade union within the company. The Court dismissed the plaintiff's case; the plaintiffs launched an appeal on the 10 February. The trade union was able to show that a crucial part of the file had been removed to favour the employer. A verdict will be issued early 2011.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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