Population: 1,600,000
Capital: Bissau
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 138 – 182

The authorities failed to keep their promises to pay the salary arrears of civil servants. It is virtually impossible to exercise trade union rights. In addition, freedom of association is guaranteed in the labour law, which is not sufficiently encompassing.

Trade union rights in law

Restrictions exist despite fundamental trade rights being granted; all workers have the right to form and join trade unions. However, the provisions in the Labour Code on anti-union discrimination are inadequate as they only protect trade union delegates and are not coupled with sufficiently dissuasive sanctions.

Most wages are established in bilateral negotiations between workers and employers, but a tripartite National Council for Social Consultation holds consultations on wages and employment legislation. Finally, workers have the right to strike and are protected by law from employer retaliation.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: After escalating political violence and the assassination of the head of state Bernardo Vieira, the election of Malam Bacaï Sanha as president in July restored institutional stability to this extremely poor country seen as a hub for the drug trade.

Payment of salary arrears repeatedly postponed: In February, the country's two national trade union centres, the General Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CGSI) and the National Workers' Union of Guinea Bissau (UNTG), protested against accusations by Finance Minister, José Maria Vaz, of widespread corruption among civil servants; the unions believed these accusations were a means of trying to justify salary arrears in the public sector. Throughout the year the unions had campaigned for the arrears to be paid, in vain, despite promises by the authorities. On 29 December, the government once again promised to pay all arrears. In 2008, there were attempts to destabilise the unions who were on general strike over the same demand. In one incident the UNTG's premises were ransacked.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.