Population: 4,900,000
Capital: Asmara
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138

The three union leaders who had been imprisoned since 2005 were released. All unions are closely monitored by the government.

Trade union rights in law

Unions permitted – with some restrictions: Employment law is covered by Proclamation 118, which gives workers the legal right to form unions. However, government policies restrict free associations. Unions are not allowed within the armed forces, the police force or other essential services, however civil servants not involved in state administration will be given the right to organise when the draft Civil Service Proclamation is passed. The Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare must grant special approval for groups of 20 or more persons seeking to form a union, but the government generally does not oppose their formation.

The law allows strikes and collective bargaining. According to Proclamation 118, a tripartite board composed of workers, employers and Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare officials resolves disputes. The complainant can pursue a case in court if it cannot be resolved by the tripartite board.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Background: The border dispute with Ethiopia has continued to hamper the country's development. Conscription is mandatory for all adults between 18 and 40 years old. The single political party controls the whole of society and no dissidence is allowed. There are thousands of prisoners of conscience.

Government monitoring: The national trade union centre is the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW), which is closely monitored by the government. Some trade unions, such as the Teachers Union, Women's Union, Youth Union and Workers' Union, come under close scrutiny from the government and the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice party. Free collective bargaining is thus rendered meaningless.

Release of three union leaders: Tewelde Ghebremedhin (President of the IUF-affiliated Food, Beverages, Hotels, Tourism, Agriculture and Tobacco Workers Federation), Minase Andezion (Secretary of the ITGLWF-affiliated Eritrean Textile, Leather and Shoe Workers' Federation) and Habtom Weldemicael (President of the Red Sea Bottlers-Coca Cola Workers Union) were released, respectively, on 3, 7 and 18 April. In March, the ITUC had once again urged the NCEW to try to secure the release of the three detainees, who had been imprisoned without charge since 2005, apparently owing to their union activities.

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