Population: 9 100 000
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 - 87 - 98 - 100 - 105 - 111 - 138 - 182
The government appeared to be engaged in a concerted attempt to undermine one of the national trade union centres, the Union des syndicats du Tchad (UST), and tried to persuade a major affiliate to leave the national centre. Two high ranking government employees who were also UST delegates were dismissed for taking part in a strike. Eleven protesting pipeline workers were injured by police, and one was arrested.
Trade union rights in law
The right to form and join trade unions is recognised in the Constitution and the 1996 Labour Code. All employees, except members of the armed forces, are free to organise.
Strikes restricted in public sector: The Constitution recognises the right to strike, although this is limited in the public sector by a 1994 decree that requires a minimum service to be maintained. The government sought to change the law to make it almost impossible for civil servants to go on strike, but the bill was defeated in parliament in August 2006.
The Labour Code specifically recognises the right to collective bargaining, but does allow for some government intervention. The Code protects unions against anti-union discrimination, but there is no formal mechanism for resolving complaints.
Trade union rights in practice
There has been resistance to union organising, for example among market traders who backed down in face of threats from government authorities. The government has not always respected negotiated agreements, such as the pay rise agreed for public sector workers in 2005. There is a general lack of labour inspection, making it impossible for many workers to exercise their rights.
Violations in 2006
Background: Nationwide strikes took place during the year, to demand payment of salary arrears and the fulfilment of the President’s promise to increase wages as of 1 January 2005. President Deby won a third term in May, in an election boycotted by the main opposition parties who accused him of corruption.
Government interference in union affairs: In January the UST reported that a high level member of the government approached the Syndicat National de Travailleurs de la Santé et des Affaires Sociales (national union of social and health workers) promising them a number of benefits if they would leave the Union des Syndicats du Tchad (UST). The government further attempted to undermine the UST by removing its “most representative” status. Every national centre and union federation in the country now has equal voting rights (one union one vote) in national social dialogue.
Dismissed for strike action: Andekezou Vaïdandi Simon, chief-registrar of the Court of Appeal and a representative of the Union des Syndicats du Tchad (UST), was dismissed on 27 July. The following day, Mr. Haroun Khagair, a UST official, was dismissed from his post as director of the Office National pour la Promotion de l’Emploi (National Office for Employment Promotion – ONAPE). The reason for both dismissals was their participation in a strike organised by the UST to protest at the government’s failure to honour its promise of increasing wages as of January 2005.
Mr. Khagair had already been dismissed from a previous job, back in 1992, for his trade union action, together with the then General Secretary of the UST, Mr. Djibrine Assali Hamdallah. They had organised a strike to protest at pay cuts. Mr. Hamdallah reported at the end of 2006 that he had still not been reinstated, despite a decision by the 1993 Sovereign National Conference.Police injure protesters and arrest one: On 3 August police wielding batons attacked a peaceful protest by former employees of Subsahara Tchad-Cameroun Constructors (Subsahara TCC), all of whom were members of the UST (Union des syndicats du Tchad). Eleven workers were injured, one of whom, Baba Elhadj Malloum, was arrested. He was taken to a police station, but later released further to the intervention of the UST. The workers had organised a sit-in to force their former employer to abide by a recent Supreme Court decision that it should implement an earlier arbitration ruling recognising that their rights had been flouted. Subsahara TCC, a sub-contracting company working for ESSO, which belongs to the oil consortium headed by EXXONMOBIL, had illegally obliged its employees to work overtime in order to complete the building of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline one year ahead of schedule. After the work had been completed, Subsahara TCC had refused to pay the overtime worked by its 4,000 workers. Subsahara TCC had been ordered, in May 2005, to pay its former employees CFA 6,212,332,451 (€9,47 million), but the company had obtained a stay of execution of the injunction. (See Survey 2006).