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Unions in Burkina Faso and Senegal fight back against precarious work

1 December, 2016The lives of hundreds of precarious workers have been dramatically improved by unions after they were regularized and organized in a campaign against precarious work.

IndustriALL Global Union affiliates from Burkina Faso and Senegal gathered on 30 November and 1 December in Ouagadougou to take stock of the progress achieved through their fight against precarious work. In both Senegal and Burkina Faso, affiliates have actively fought the abusive use of daily and fixed term contracts for years.

Last September, after several months of labour conflict at the mining site of Bissa Gold, owned by Nord Gold in Burkina Faso, 750 temporary, fixed term contract, workers won permanent contracts. Two hundred temporary agency workers are expected to be directly employed as permanent workers by Bissa Gold.

This was the result of an active campaign and media exposure led by IndustriALL affiliate the general union Fédération des Industries Diverses (FID) and their confederation the CNTB, with the support of IndustriALL.

Nord Gold has announced that it will pay workers all unpaid overtime and holidays owed by its sub-contractor, Exterhum, as demanded by the workers. The case of 116 workers illegally retrenched in October 2015 is still at the labour court for a final decision.

In Burkina Faso in 2015, FID and the textile, garment and leather union the Fédération Nationale des Travailleurs du Textile, de l'Habillement et du Cuir (FNTTHC) recruited 548 new members from the precarious workforce.  Affiliates will take joint action on 7 December to denounce and demand the revision of a labour law adopted in 2008 that allows for the unlimited renewal of fixed term contract. Since the adoption of this law, the number of fixed term contract workers has exploded.

In 2016 in Senegal, the general union Syndicat Unique des Travailleurs des Industries Diverses du Sénégal (SUTIDS) successfully negotiated the regularization of 218 fixed term contract and daily workers out of 996 precarious workers working in 15 companies in the chemical sector.

The chemical union Syndicat National des Travailleurs des Industries Chimiques et Activités Rattachées du Sénégal (SYNTICS) successfully recruited 316 precarious workers. The lives of the workers who have been regularized have changed completely. Not only have their salaries increased, and sometimes doubled, they now have access with their families to medical care and they benefit from proper protective equipment.

In 2015, the unions launched a campaign to limit the use of day workers in their countries. As a result, in 2016, the unions are negotiating an amendment to the legislation on the use daily work at the national tripartite body.

The amendment aims to ban the use of daily work in core activities and to provide day workers with medical coverage and social protection. Affiliates plan another day of action in December to put pressure on both employers and government. IndustriALL affiliates succeeded in mobilizing several confederations and unions from services and agriculture for this campaign.