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Unions and civil society organizations reject Togo’s repressive draft constitutional law

1 February, 2022Unions and civil society organizations in Togo are objecting to draft constitutional amendments whose provisions violate workers’ and human rights that are protected by current laws. They say the amendments are “liberticidal” as they will strangle freedom of association.

The Fédération des Industries du Togo (FIT), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, two other unions that organize in the mines and hospitals, and civil society organisations (CSOs) who make up a group of eight organizations that identify as G8, say the process to amend Togo’s 1901 constitution is flawed. It is neither transparent nor inclusive. The G8, a coalition of organizations promoting workers’ rights, human rights, the rule of law and inclusive social dialogue, says they were never consulted on the draft law, and only learnt about the bill through official announcements.

Further, the G8 says the draft law violates international human rights and labour standards to which the country has signed up. The group calls upon the government to consider international labour standards and human rights instruments when drafting laws. These rights are protected in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and International Labour Organization standards that include Convention 87 on freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, and Convention 98 on the right to organize and collective bargaining.

The G8 fears that the main aim is to “silence their voices” and is shocked that the amendments did not go through parliament under the pretext of the Covid-19 pandemic regulations. In a statement, the group views this as union busting and interference with CSOs and says the cumbersome registration and reporting requirements proposed in the future law will make it impossible for the organizations to operate.

“To show how bad this draft law is, we have deleted 44 offensive articles in the bill. We will present our objections to the government and are raising awareness among workers through information and education campaigns on why the unions are rejecting the draft law. We are also asking workers to comment on the draft,”

says Mensah Tchegnon, FIT general secretary.

Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa says:

“We call upon the government of Togo to respect workers and human rights as protected in the national laws and international labour standards. The government should build a non-adversarial relationship with trade unions through social dialogue instead of drafting obnoxious laws.”

Photo: File image of the Fédération des Industries du Togo