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2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Togo

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Togo, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 24 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: 6,600,000
Capital: Lomé
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Most employers in both the public and private sectors have turned a deaf ear to trade union calls for social dialogue. Trade union rights are not completely secured, and the right to collective bargaining is severely limited.

Trade union rights in law

While the Constitution guarantees freedom of association and the right to strike, excessive restrictions still apply.

The Labour Code of 2006 extends the right to hold union office to migrant workers legally established in the country, and specifically stipulates that the consent of a spouse is not needed to join a union, a provision that facilitates the right of women to organise. However, workers in export processing zones do not enjoy the same trade union rights as workers outside the zones. Furthermore, the Labour Code stipulates that the dismissal of union representatives require the consent of the labour inspectorate. Although anti-union discrimination is prohibited, there are no provisions protecting strikers against employer retaliation.

While the right to collective bargaining is recognised, it is limited to a single nationwide agreement that must be negotiated and endorsed by the government as well as trade unions and employers.

Finally, public sector health workers are not allowed to strike.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: In May, an attempted coup was foiled. The authorities arrested the suspects, including the President's brother. Presidential elections are due in April 2010. Civil society organisations have issued a warning to political leaders and the army. The 2005 elections were marred by serious violence.

Break down of social dialogue: Since the adoption of a new labour code and a memorandum of understanding in 2006, there has been virtually no progress in social dialogue. According to the Union of Togolese Workers Unions (ISTT), which groups together the National Workers' Confederation of Togo (CNTT), the Workers' Trade Union Confederation of Togo (CSTT), the General Union of Free Trade Unions (UGSL) and the National Union of Independent Trade Unions of Togo (UNSIT), most of the promises made by the government on workers and trade union rights have not been met. In many sectors, workers and their organisations have complained of silence from the authorities, and even contempt for their demands. Cases in point include the dockers at the independent port of Lomé (see article in "Violations" section), and farm agents affiliated to the National Union of Rural Managers of Togo (SYNERTO) who went on strike in March because all their efforts to negotiate the payment of their salary arrears remained in vain. According to the UNSIT, the basic principles of social dialogue were also ignored during the restructuring of the new Phosphates Company which resulted in the dismissal of over 600 employees.

Trade union created in export processing zone: On 8 December, the Export Processing Zone Workers' Union of Togo (USYNTRAZOFE) held its founding congress at the headquarters of the Workers Trade Union Confederation of Togo (CSTT). Organising workers in the export processing zone remained difficult, with most employers still very hostile towards trade unions.

Strike ban and broken promises at Lomé port: At the beginning of January, a wildcat strike broke out among dockers at the Lomé port. For four years management had promised professional status and better working conditions. The authorities banned the protest action and tried to isolate the strikers, explaining that it was not port employees but neighbourhood youth that were causing the problems. In the weeks that followed, the Free Trade Union of Workers of the Autonomous Port of Lomé (SLTRAPAL) did reach an agreement with management, but by the end of the year the promised measures had still not been applied.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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