Population: 1,400,000
Capital: Libreville
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 182

There were cases of anti-union discrimination and police violence against strikers at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Trade union rights in law

Right to join trade unions: All workers have the right freely to form and become members of the trade union of their choice. Trade unions must be registered to obtain official recognition.

Right to strike – limitations: Workers in the public sector can join a trade union and have the right to strike, however that right is restricted where it poses a threat to public safety.

A strike may only be started following eight days' advance notice and after arbitration has failed. The Labour Code prohibits the government from intervening directly against strikers who adhere to the arbitration and notification procedures.

Discrimination against trade unions: The law does not expressly prohibit discrimination against trade unions. However, the courts can order employers that are found guilty of discrimination to compensate the employees concerned.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: Though more stable and richer, thanks to oil revenues, that most other countries of sub-Saharan Africa, Gabon is not managing to reduce the vast gulf in incomes between the minority of the population that is benefiting more and more from the mining of the country's natural resources and the poor majority whose purchasing power fell considerably in 2007. Omar Bongo's regime tolerates freedom of expression except against itself. In January, around twenty civil society associations were suspended for a few days and, at the end of December, several of their activists were arrested.

Widespread anti-union harassment: Trade unionists in both the public and private sectors are often discriminated against. They are regularly harassed or simply dismissed. Many members of the Gabonese Confederation of Trade Unions (CGSL) have been victims in recent years of arbitrary arrests and even of imprisonment on trumped-up charges. The government also ignores the elected leadership of the CGSL, appointing workers' representatives of its own choosing to tripartite bodies.

Trade unionists beaten up by the police: Many strikes took place in the public services and also in the private sector, particularly the oil industry. On May Day, civil servants at the Ministry of Agriculture, who had been on strike since 4 April, were beaten up by the police. Jean René Mombo Nzamba, President of the National Agriculture Union, explained that the police had used a false rumour, namely that the Minister had been illegally detained, as an excuse for charging the strikers, several of whom had to be hospitalised. A few days earlier, peaceful marches against the high cost of living had also been brutally repressed.

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