ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182
Strikes have become extremely difficult to organise since the amendment of the legislation in 2007. Trade union leaders are still being harassed and many members are still being sanctioned for their participation in the strike of 2007.
Trade union rights in law
Freedom of association: The right to form and join trade unions is recognised in the Constitution and the 1996 Labour Code. All workers, except members of the armed forces, are free to organise. The Code protects unions against anti-union discrimination and stipulates measures concerning the protection of workplace representatives and the facilities to be granted to them.
The Labour Code stipulates that unions must present their financial accounts and the corresponding receipts without delay at the request of a labour inspector. According to the ILO, this provision could be used as the basis for acts of government interference in trade union activities.
Right to collective bargaining: The Labour Code of 1996 specifically recognises the right to collective bargaining, but does allow for some government intervention.
Strikes further restricted in the public sector: The law of 9 May 2007 regulating the right to strike in public services established a Conciliation Council whose composition is determined by the government and to which all collective disputes must be submitted. This mandatory procedure considerably lengthens the period before a strike can be lawfully initiated. The list of public services considered "essential" has been significantly extended. Workers in the broadcasting industry, the postal services, abattoirs and nine more categories of services may be "requisitioned" by the relevant ministerial authorities as well as by local authorities. It should be noted that strikes are permitted in these sectors providing that a minimum service is ensured, but it is up to the public authorities to determine, at their own discretion, the minimum services to be provided and the number of employees required to ensure them.
The law also stipulates that unions must specify the "possible" duration of a strike, even though, according to the ILO, unions should have the right to call unlimited strike action.
Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008
Background: A succession of rebel raids followed by peace accords between Chad and Sudan have been going on for years. In February, a rebel attack from Sudan almost succeeded in ousting President Deby. The two countries signed a peace agreement in March, but the hostilities resumed just weeks later.
Union representatives harassed: Following the events of February, human rights activists and members of the political opposition went into exile abroad, fearing for their safety. Rumour had it that the security services had drawn up a blacklist. UST General Secretary Djibrine Assali resigned from his post. Many trade union leaders and members are still being punished for their participation in the general strike of 2007, when disciplinary measures were taken and many unionists were transferred or relieved of their duties.
Authorities shut down UST-backed radio: The authorities suspended the broadcasts of FM-Liberté for over four months, in retaliation for the independent line taken by journalists at the radio station. One of its programmes, "La tribune des travailleurs" ("Workers' Platform"), was presented by a member of the UST and gave listeners a broader knowledge of their rights and obligations under the labour legislation. At the end of May, the radio was allowed to broadcast again, but the authorities had signed a "liberticidal" order in the meantime, introducing a range of new press offences.
Social dialogue stalled in the oil industry: PETROSYNAT, the union representing almost all of the 470 employees at ESSO-Chad (a subsidiary of ExxonMobil), has still not been able to conclude a collective agreement with company representatives. According to reports from the members, the meetings are often suspended or cancelled as the management is determined to block any progress. PETROSYNAT reported even greater difficulties with the subcontracting firms, in which it has several hundred members. Security is used as a pretext for forbidding the union representatives from the various sites and companies from meeting in each others' offices.
Disclaimer: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010