Population: 5,000,000
Capital: Asmara
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138

There was no improvement in this totalitarian state where there is no freedom of association and no free collective bargaining.


Labour law is governed by Labour Proclamation No 118, which gives workers the right to form unions. Unions are not allowed in the armed forces, the police and in essential services. In addition, civil servants not involved in state administration do not have the right to organise until the draft Civil Service Proclamation is passed. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare must grant special approval for groups of 20 or more workers seeking to form a union. Collective bargaining and strikes are allowed and industrial disputes are resolved by a tripartite board composed of workers, employers and Ministry of Labour and Human Welfare officials.


Background: Eritrea remains a one party state and the only country in Africa to have no privately owned news media. The economy is mainly dependent on loans and remittances from the diaspora. Peace with Ethiopia remains fragile. Peace was threatened internally when in May rebel groups said they were operating jointly to topple the government.

No freedom of association, no collective bargaining: There is no freedom of association in the country and no political organisations, other than the ruling People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), are permitted. All unions – including the National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW) and its affiliates – are kept under close scrutiny by the totalitarian government. There is no free collective bargaining.

Forced labour: By law, all able-bodied adult Eritreans must perform 18 months of national service. In practice, national service is routinely prolonged indefinitely. National service conscripts, about 300,000 at any given moment, are badly paid and are made to work on government projects, principally agriculture and construction. They are also used as cheap, involuntary labour on projects that personally benefit civilian and military leaders. Another use for these workers is in the gold mines, often run by western companies who sub-contract much of the work – construction, food products, transportation, banking, even some drilling – to local companies, which inevitably means government-owned companies. The overwhelming majority of those "employed" by government companies are the national service conscripts, forced to work for a salary of ERN 500 (USD 12) per month.

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