Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2017, 11:48 GMT

2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Sudan

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 - Sudan, 8 June 2011, available at: [accessed 19 October 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: 42,200,000
Capital: Khartoum
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

There was no improvement in Sudan where no independent trade union activity is tolerated.


The 2000 Labour Code essentially denies trade union freedoms. Furthermore, the 1992 Trade Union Act only allows one trade union federation, the state-controlled Sudan Workers Trade Union Federation (SWTUF), and independent unions are banned. The government regulates most aspects of the trade unions' activities, including elections, their organisational structure and alliances, and the unions' funds are controlled by the Auditor General.

Collective bargaining is thwarted by the fact that salaries are set by a tripartite committee comprising members of the government, employers, and the SWTUF. Although labour disputes are adjudicated by the labour courts, the Minister of Labour can refer them to compulsory arbitration. Legal strike action is practically impossible as all strikes must be approved by the government.


Background: President Bashir won Sudan's first multi-party elections in 24 years, marred by widespread vote rigging and intimidation. The Darfur conflict continued after attempts at a peace deal ultimately failed. In July, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a second arrest warrant for President Bashir – this time for charges of genocide. At the end of the year the country was preparing for the January 2011 referendum on independence for the South.

Dismal rights record: Sudan is a non-democratic, authoritarian country whose human and trade union rights record is a matter of serious concern. Trade unionists outside the pro-government trade unions live under constant fear and do not dare denounce inhumane work conditions. It appears that independent trade unionists are not able to participate in international trade union meetings for fear of reprisal when they return home. Accurate information about the numbers of trade unionists in prison is difficult to obtain and their whereabouts is unknown. Some tolerance is shown to trade unions within the official structures. The Sea Ports Trade Union has publicly opposed any plans to partially or fully privatise Port Sudan Harbour, as it could jeopardise workers jobs. Their position was supported by the official Sudan Workers' Trade Union Federation (SWTUF).

SWTUF colludes in government surveillance of oil workers: In the oil-producing regions, police and secret service agents closely monitor workers' activities in collusion with oil companies. These regions are designated "high security areas", where the free movement of people has been effectively curtailed. The official Sudan Workers' Trade Union Federation (SWTUF) is used as part of the government's strategy to control workers in order to ensure a regular flow of oil. Part of the revenue from this oil has been ploughed back into financing the war efforts in the Darfur region. The SWTUF has consistently supported government denials that mass murder has taken place in Darfur, where workers have not even dared to approach the SWTUF for protection.

Export processing zones: There is one export processing zone (EPZ) in Port Sudan which is exempt from labour laws. There is no freedom of association for workers in the zones.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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