Population: 16,469,000
Capital: Ouagadougou

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Threats: 1
Injuries: 7

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher


Trade union action was repeatedly repressed by employers and the police. The right to strike was not respected. Demonstrators were injured. Mine workers faced intimidation, as did the general secretary of a bank workers' union.


President Blaise Compaoré, a soldier who came to power in 1987 following a coup d'État, faced unprecedented civil unrest between February and July after the suspicious death of a student. At least five demonstrators died in clashes between the police and thousands of youths. Police stations and officials building were ransacked and set alight. After five soldiers were sent to prison in March, a mutiny broke out. Then shopkeepers whose premises had been ransacked held demonstrations, followed by magistrates protesting against the release of the imprisoned soldiers. On 8 April trade unions and civil society organised a general strike. In July, a fresh mutiny caused the deaths of eight people in Bobo Dioulasso.

Trade union rights in law

A 2008 amendment to the Labour Code brought some improvements to the trade union rights situation, and explicitly recognised the right to form and join trade unions. The new Labour Code also bans any trade union related dismissal. Although unions have the right to bargain collectively on wages and working conditions, the categories of public servants who enjoy this right have not yet been specified.

The new Labour Code recognises the right to take strike action, also to defend workers' material or moral interests. However, occupation of workplaces or their immediate surroundings is not permitted, and the government retains the right to requisition private and public sector workers to ensure a minimum service.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

No reinstatement for strikers unfairly punished: Trade union leaders and members of several public service trade unions arbitrarily dismissed or transferred in the last few years for their trade union activities have not yet been reinstated. Several court rulings in favour of unfairly dismissed strikers were not implemented.


Undermining the right to strike in the mining industry: During the strike begun on 8 April by the local branch of the Geology and Mine Workers Union (SYNTRAGMI), the management of the Taparko Mining Company (SOMITA) told strikers to vacate their accommodation. SOMITA also made excessive use of its right to requisition workers, going beyond services essential to maintain production.

May Day march cancelled: National trade union centres cancelled a May Day march in the capital owing the lack of security along the planned route and rumours that some individuals were preparing to infiltrate the march to commit anti-union acts.

Police repress civil servants' demonstration: Police forcibly repressed a demonstration by employees of the Economy and Finance Ministry on 15 June, on the third day of their strike. The Burkina General Confederation of Labour (CGTB) reported that seven of the strikers died after the police charged at them wielding truncheons and releasing tear gas.

Right to strike under attack in the banking sector: Following a strike by employees of the Regional Solidarity Bank (BRS) on 26 July, called by their union the Banking, Insurance, Financial Establishments, Trade and Industry Trade Union Federation (FESBACI), the strikers received a letter demanding that they account for their absence. The union had given due notice of the strike however, in the time and manner required. The strikers were also summoned to appear before a disciplinary committee. The employer finally dropped all further action against the strikers after the national trade union centres threw their weight behind the FESBACI arguing that the strike was legal.

Anonymous calls and threats against union leader: Aristide Zoungrana, General Secretary of the National Independent Union of Administrative and Technical Staff, Labourers and Support Staff of the Public Universities of Burkina (SYNATOSUB), received two anonymous calls in October. In the second call he was told it would be in his best interests to cease his trade union activities "while there was still time". SYNATOSUB had called a 72 hour strike, from 26 to 28 October, to protest at the authorities silence in response to their demands concerning pay and housing.

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