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2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Chad

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 20 November 2008
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Chad, 20 November 2008, 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: 10,800,000
Capital: N'Djamena
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Following the grouping together of several organisations into a confederation (Intersyndicale) and the staging of a strike by public service workers, the government adopted a more uncompromising position and modified the law on the right to strike, making it much more restrictive. The refusal to negotiate with the Intersyndicale, attempts at corruption, and the harassment of union leaders are some of the anti-union tactics used by the government.

Trade union rights in law

The right to form and join trade unions is recognised in the Constitution and the 1996 Labour Code. All employees, except members of the armed forces, are free to organise.

Strikes further restricted in public sector: On 7 May, i.e. five days after the beginning of the strike of public service workers, the National Assembly passed Law No. 8 regulating the right to strike in public services. The law established a Conciliation Council whose composition is determined by the government and to which all collective disputes must be submitted. This mandatory procedure considerably lengthens the period before a strike can be lawfully initiated. The list of public services considered "essential" has been significantly extended. Workers in the broadcasting industry, the postal services, abattoirs and nine more categories of services may be "requisitioned" by the relevant ministerial authorities as well as by local authorities.

The Labour Code specifically recognises the right to collective bargaining, but does allow for some government intervention. The Code protects unions against anti-union discrimination, but there is no formal mechanism for resolving complaints.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Background: The peace agreement signed in October has not been respected any more than previous agreements. Violence flared up again towards the end of the year. As far as the social and economic situation is concerned, the living conditions of the general population have not improved, in spite of the oil boom. President Deby did not deliver on the promise of salary increases, and a lengthy strike paralysed the civil service.

Refusal to negotiate with the Intersyndicale: On 2 May, grouped in a confederation (Intersyndicale), the Union des Syndicats du Tchad (UST) and several independent unions called a public service strike which lasted until 27 August. Following some initial contacts with representatives of the Intersyndicale, the government broke off dialogue, arguing that the confederation had no legal personality or status. However, there is no requirement, in the Labour Code, for confederations to register, and the member unions of the Intersyndicale should have been recognised as legitimate collective bargaining partners. Although their demands as a whole were rejected by the government, the unions called off the strike at the end of June. The strike action did however lead to salary increases.

Government interference in union affairs: During the public service strike, François Djondang, General Secretary of the Syndicat National de Travailleurs de la Santé et des Affaires Sociales (national union of social and health workers), was approached by high-level members of the government who urged him to end the strike and promised a number of benefits if his union left the Intersyndicale. It should be recalled that in 2006, this union leader, who is also the Deputy General Secretary of the UST, had already come under this kind of pressure. However, a similar attempt by the Minister for Infrastructures, targeting the General Secretary of the Syndicat des Enseignants du Tchad (SET, Chad Teachers' Union), appears to have been successful, leading to the withdrawal of the SET, on 29 June, from the Intersyndicale and consequently weakening the trade union movement.

Union leaders harassed: UST General Secretary Djibrine Assali and UST consultant Haroun Khagair have been summoned to a judicial hearing after reporting the above-mentioned corruption attempts. A ruling is expected in 2008. Both have been harassed by the authorities. In 1992, they were dismissed from their jobs for participating in a strike and, in 2006, Haroun Khagait was again dismissed from his post as director of the Office National pour la Promotion de l'Emploi (National Office for Employment Promotion – ONAPE) for similar reasons. In May 2007, Djibrine Assali was prevented from attending the International Labour Conference when his passport was confiscated – officially, because he had not applied for a visa from the Ministry for National Security.

Strikers subjected to intimidation, penalties and dismissals: According to UST officials, virtually all public service workers have been threatened with reprisals before and during the strike, and the reported cases of intimidation are so numerous that it has proved impossible to keep a systematic record of all them. Often the threats were fulfilled. Thus, for example, of 100 civil servants who are members of the Syndicat National des Greffiers du Tchad (National Union of Court Clerks of Chad), 23 were transferred or relieved from duty.

Anti-union violence during strike action: On 5 June, the Labour Exchange was attacked and occupied by security forces, which then prevented the strikers from entering the building. The violence was not confined to the capital, N'djamena. The police fired on demonstrators in the towns of Bongor, Sahr and Gounou Gaya, wounding several people.

The authorities have pursued their attempts to undermine the UST by removing its "most representative" status. Every national centre and union federation in the country now has equal voting rights (one union one vote) in national social dialogue. No trade union elections have been held in Chad.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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