ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182
Nine union leaders were held in prison for 11 months of the year, while 18 rail workers were dismissed in 2006. Basic trade union rights are well protected in law, although there were claims that courts have used their power to grant union registration in a discriminatory way.
Trade union rights in law
The Constitution guarantees freedom of association. Both the 1992 Labour Code and the 2002 Law on the General Status of the Civil Servants allow workers to form and join unions, including non-nationals and migrant workers. The military and some high-level civil servants are excluded, which, if narrowly applied, is not against the principles of freedom of association. However the exclusion also applies to top managers at the Banque Centrale des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (BCEAO), which is not compatible with those principles.
"Conformity Act" required: A newly formed union has to deposit its texts with the prosecutor at the Tribunal de Première Instance of the commune, who will then examine their conformity with national legislation.
Right to strike: All workers, including civil servants, have the right to strike, and all types of strikes are allowed. Those required to provide a minimum service during a strike include school principals, who fall outside the ILO definition of essential services.
Collective bargaining: Both the private and the public sector have the right to collective bargaining. A collective agreement under limited duration is valid for a maximum of five years. However, once this term expires, and without contradictory stipulations, the agreement is then considered of unlimited duration.
Trade union rights in practice
Unions claim that some prosecutors called to deliver the Conformity Act to new unions have refused to do so, or have privileged one union over another active in the same sector. This is reportedly the case for the union of urban transporters of the east of Bamako.
The CSTM reports that it is systematically discriminated against by the Malian authorities. It is excluded from the Conseil Superieur de la Fonction Publique, the board of administrators of the Agence Nationale pour l'Emploi (ANPE) and the Institut Nationale de Prévoyance Sociale (INPS), and of the Socio-economic and Cultural Board, in violation of decisions of the Supreme Court of Mali.
Government obstructing collective bargaining at federal level: Although collective bargaining is legally guaranteed, in practice, the government refuses to open negotiations on a federal collective agreement on trade which exists since 1956, as well as on the collective agreements on building and public works, on general mechanics, and on the Catholic education sector (whose current collective agreement dates back to 1969).
Violations in 2006
Background: Trade unions called strikes during the year to demand wage increases, while the government cites the nation's poverty (Mali is the world's fourth poorest nation) as grounds for refusing those increases. In January Mali hosted the 2006 World Social Forum, the first to be held in Africa.
Strike leaders in prison: Nine employees of the gold mining company SOMADEX, in prison since a 72-hour strike in July 2005, remained in custody for most of the year. They were among 32 striking workers arrested for complicity in arson during the dispute after two buses rented by SOMADEX burnt out. The policemen who arrested them were paid by MORILA, the company for which SOMADEX extracts the ore. Twenty-three of them were provisionally released after more than five weeks. The remaining nine, considered to be the leaders of the protest, were not released until 25 November 2006. SOMADEX is a subsidiary of the French multinational Bouygues. According to some sources, Somadex's Human Resources manager had, shortly before the buses burnt out, provided the "gendarmes" a list of about thirty "main leaders" who had to be closely watched.
Striking rail workers dismissed: In July 2006, TRANSRAIL, the Franco-Canadian concession holder of a privatised railway, dismissed 18 activists from the Malian union SYTRAIL and two from the Senegalese union FETRAIL who were on strike. Their action was in protest at the non-respect of an earlier agreement regarding wages. Eight of the Malian strikers were reinstated on 1 December 2006 at the request of the Mali government. A tripartite commission later ruled that the remaining ten strikers had not committed any offence and should be reinstated unconditionally. At the end of the year, TRANSRAIL was continuing to refuse their reinstatement.
Telecoms managers dismissed for refusing to leave union: Two Malitel executives were dismissed in June because they refused to leave the CSTM.
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