Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2018, 09:49 GMT

2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Sudan

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 6 June 2012
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2012 Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights - Sudan, 6 June 2012, available at: [accessed 22 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: 43,500,000
Capital: Khartoum

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Murders: none reported
Attempted Murders: none reported
Threats: none reported
Injuries: none reported
Arrests: none reported
Imprisonments: none reported
Dismissals: none reported

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher


No independent trade union activity is tolerated by the repressive and authoritarian regime


Sudan split into two, creating the new independent state of South Sudan on 9 July. The split was peaceful but Sudan saw increasing popular unrest and widening armed opposition in the months that followed. In Khartoum, government authorities pursued familiar repressive tactics including harassing, arresting, detaining, and torturing perceived opponents of the government; censoring media; and banning political parties. President Omar Bashir faces war crimes charges over Darfur. In December the International Criminal Court asked for similar charges to be brought against his Defence Minister.

Trade union rights in law

The 2000 Labour Code essentially denies trade union freedoms. Furthermore, the new Trade Union Act adopted in 2010 maintains a system of trade union monopoly at the federation level where all workers' organizations must conduct their activities under the umbrella of the Sudan Workers Trade Union Federation. The authorities may refuse to register any trade union if there is an established organization which already serves the same objectives.

Additionally, the law still regulates most aspects of the trade unions' activities, including elections, their organisational structure. The unions' funds are controlled by auditors appointed by the Public Registrar. Workers from the Prison Service, Judges, and legal advisers of a number of departments in the public administration are not allowed to join or form trade unions.

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.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

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. 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 and their whereabouts is difficult to obtain . Doctors went on strike during the year in frustration at repeated broken promises by the health ministry over pay and conditions. They were clearly expecting the worst: the former president of the Physicians Committee, Ahmad Al-Abwabi, urged security agencies not to attack doctors by arresting or beating them up as has happened in the past.

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.


No entry for this country for this year

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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