Population: 6,800,000
Capital: Lomé
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Strikes were driven by the absence of social dialogue and poor working conditions. Six strikers were dismissed from a cement works.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association and the right to strike: Workers have the right to join unions and to strike, with the exception of members of the security services, fire workers and the police. Public sector health workers are allowed to join unions but not to strike.

The Labour Code of 1974 prohibited foreign workers from holding trade union office. The new Code of 2006 allows migrant workers to hold such posts insofar as they are legally established in the country. The Code of 2006 also specifically stipulates that all persons are able to join a union without the express consent of their spouse, which facilitates the right of women to unionise. Stronger protection is afforded to trade union representatives through a provision stating that their dismissal must be approved by the labour inspectorate.

Anti-union discrimination is prohibited.

Weaknesses: There is no provision protecting strikers against reprisal measures.

Right to collective bargaining: Nominally, the right to collective bargaining exists, but this is limited to a single nationwide agreement that must be negotiated and endorsed by representatives of the government as well as trade unions and employers. The agreement sets nationwide wage standards for all employees in the formal economy.

Export processing zones: The law provides exemptions from some provisions of the Labour Code for companies with export processing zone (EPZ) status, such as the regulations on hiring and firing. Employees of EPZ companies do not enjoy the same protection against anti-union discrimination as other workers. This matter has been raised repeatedly by the ILO Committee of Experts which has highlighted the need for workers in EPZs to benefit from trade union rights.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: A first step was taken towards initiating social dialogue in 2006, at the insistence of trade union organisations and under the threat of strike action. A draft agreement was signed and a National Council for Social Dialogue was set up, but the dialogue has barely progressed since then. The absence of social dialogue and the often appalling working conditions led to several strikes during 2008. Doctors took action on two occasions and a stoppage took place in the phosphate industry, which is crucial to the national economy but is falling into decline. One of the country's two cement works, run by the Indian company Fortia, in Tabligbo, was brought to a standstill in July by a strike in support of the workers' demand for decent pay. In September, the workers downed tools once again, to demand the reinstatement of six of their unfairly dismissed colleagues, who the management considered to have been the ringleaders of the strike in July.

Export processing zones (EPZs): In general, anti-union attitudes prevail in the EPZs, despite the prohibition of anti-union discrimination.

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