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Ivory Coast: Continued fight for workers’ rights in the oil sector

19 December, 2017IndustriALL Global Union affiliate in the Ivory Coast, SYNTEPCI, is continuing to fight violations against workers’ rights at Klenzi Distribution SA, Libya Oil, and Petroci, giving a strike notice on 3 November.

Klenzi dismissed eight workers for refusing to denounce their union membership, in clear violation of their freedom of association, as well as of the country’s labour laws.

However, the company’s lawyers are denying violations, and the ministry of labour is asking SYNTEPCI to provide evidence. The union is surprised by this as it gave evidence for the violations a long time ago and see the new request as time wasting. Whilst all this is happening the workers are yet to receive their benefits and struggling to survive. For instance, one of the dismissed workers, Verbier Gautier, has no place to stay after being evicted for failing to pay rent.

Libya Oil, having retrenched eight workers, is refusing to abide by the conditions of a signed agreement. The agreement clearly states that fair compensation should be given to workers when retrenched.

Petroci is also breaking the law by employing temporary workers for more than six months. Some 200 workers have been on temporary contracts from five to even 15 years and have no benefits.

Jérémie Wondje, general secretary, for SYNTEPCI says: “In August, when we picketed at Klenzi offices in Abidjan against the blatant union bashing, the company called in the police and the military to disperse the workers. However, they left without incident after realizing that the picket was caused by a labour dispute.

We are demanding the reinstatement of the workers. The companies lack commitment and this is frustrating; the issue should have been resolved by now.

Fabian Nkomo, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, adds:

We are in solidarity with SYNTEPCI that has remained resolute despite sustained intimidation, and have written to the Government of the Ivory Coast and the ministry of labour to express our disappointment with Klenzi’s union bashing tactics. The oil companies in the Ivory Coast need to respect workers’ rights.

The union is supported by the confederation UGTCI, the Ivorian League of Human Rights and the Ivorian Human Rights Commission.