Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:55 GMT

2016 ITUC Global Rights Index - Madagascar

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2016
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2016 ITUC Global Rights Index - Madagascar, 9 June 2016, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5799aa67c.html [accessed 13 December 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.

Dismissal of two trade union leaders at Rio Tinto subsidiary: On 5 November, after a three-week strike, over 100 Rio Tinto security guards won the dispute with their employer Pro'Tech Security. The workers were calling for the reinstatement of two of their representatives, also leaders of the Confédération Générale des Syndicats des Travailleurs de Madagascar (FISEMA). Eugène Chrétien, general secretary of the FISEMA, underlined the power of solidarity. He also paid tribute to the management at Pro'Tech Security for correcting its attitude to dialogue and negotiations. IndustriALL, which supported its affiliate, underlined the urgency of campaigning at global level against Rio Tinto's excessive use of subcontractors and the ill-treatment suffered as a result.

Canadian giant Sherrit's contempt for its workers and their representatives: On 3 June, the mining group Sherrit International, which employs 3,000 direct workers and 6,000 others via subcontractors, suspended 900 workers from its Ambatovy extraction site (nickel and cobalt) for six months. Fifteen trade union representatives were among them, despite the protection conferred on them by the posts. The decision was taken suddenly and without consulting the works council. Many of the workers laid off without pay heard the news on 5 June, in the morning when they turned away at the entrance of the mine. Distressed, one of the workers committed suicide. Aside from the fall in the price of nickel, the management also referred to the two-week strike that had been staged earlier that year and had supposedly led to a fall in profits. Assisted by the Global Union IndustriALL, the trade unions soon showed these pretexts to be false. The financial results for 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 had been deemed excellent. Just months earlier, moreover, Sherry had made a donation of a million dollars to the Defence Ministry, a gesture considered unethical by IndustriALL. The unions affiliated to IndustriALL (FESATI, FSTEM, SVS and SEKRIMA) saw the mass layoff as a way for Sherrit to crush the nions, with the complicity of the government, given that the mining group subsequently refused to furnish proof that the layoffs were financial justified. The employer was suspected of having infiltrated the unions, provoking international disputes, divisions and a climate of suspicion, weakening the unions. This strategy also led to tensions, fear and resentment among the workers and the local population. In December, IndustriALL condemned the mining group's "total arrrogance", following its refusal to mediate with the trade union leaders on the invitation of the authorities and the suspension of the works council. Sherry, it should be noted, has continued to hire expatriate employees, migrant and local contract workers. At the end of the year, the group announced that only 10 per cent of the workers laid off could resume work.

Right to strike hampered at national water and electricity company: On 18 September, in the capital, the authorities arrested and imprisoned Oliva Andrianalimanana, president of the Union des Syndicats Autonomes de Madagascar (USAM), affiliated to the ITUC and president of the Intersyndicale del la Compagnie Nationale d'Eau et d'Electricité (JIRAMA). A portion of the 5,800 employers at JIRAMA had been on strike since 10 August. They received support from ITUC-Africa and IndustriALL Global Union.

The trade union leader was accused of forgery and the use of forgeries in an old and rather tenuous case with no relation to the labour dispute. For the strikers, the unions and many observers, the digging up of an old file was above all a way for the authorities to muzzle the trade union leader and to break the strike. The management at JIRAMA forbid demonstrations on the company's sites, on the pretext that a handmade explosive device had been found a few weeks earlier at its headquarters in Ambohijatovo Avaratra. On 23 September, the Intersyndicale, substantially weakened, was forced to bring the strike to an end. On 11 November, Oliva Andrianalimanana and another striker accused as part of the same case were given a 14 month suspended sentence. They were also dismissed.

Criminalisation of trade union action, arrest and dismissal of four activists: Labour grievances at Air Madagascar over the company's poor management, wage discrimination (nationals/foreigners) and the surplus of non-agreed leave came to a head at the beginning of June when the employer initiated disciplinary proceedings against trade union activists guilty of having publicly expressed their grievances. The trade unions, gathered within an inter-union grouping, launched a strike on 15 June, in compliance with the labour law. Rather than listening to the workers' grievances, the management reacted by declaring the strike illicit and demanding the requisitioning of the staff, which only served to reinforce the strike action. On 27 June, seven strikers were called in by the economic police following at complaint at the Ministry of Tourism for "economic sabotage, destabilisation of the state and criminal association". Briefly held in detention whilst the police searched his home, Rado Rabarilala, the trade unionist leading the strike action, then learnt that he had been dismissed, along with three other workers' representatives. A breakthrough was finally made following the director's resignation and government's appointment of a new board of directors. On 17 July, the strike was called off following a pledge to reinstate the four trade union activists. At the end of 2015, however, they had not yet been reinstated.

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