Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Togo : Alarming Levels of Child Labour and Widespread Anti-union Discrimination

Keywords : Climate Change And Environment Cote d’Ivoire Human and trade union rights Gender Equality Guinea Bissau Reports Structural Transformation For Africa’s Development Togo

The ITUC is releasing today a report prepared for the World Trade Organisation’s trade policy review of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Togo that finds that the absence of respect for the rule of law has a serious impact on respect for all core labour rights.

Although the three countries recognise basic trade union rights and freedoms, in practice the lack of adequate legal protection, poor enforcement and widespread anti-union discrimination have limited workers’ bargaining power. In Togo’s Export Processing Zone (EPZ), workers have to overpass additional hurdles in organising, even just to pursue what are legally established wages and social benefits in the rest of the country. Most of the Zone’s workers are women working long hours for little pay.

In all three countries, women face considerable gender pay gaps and a labour market segregated along gender lines. In general, women are less likely to be hired than men because employers prefer to avoid having to pay maternity benefits.

The ITUC report also finds that child labour, forced labour and trafficking of children are an alarming problem in all three countries. Children are forced to work in dangerous conditions and at a sub-minimum wage in agriculture and domestic servitude. The labour inspectorates and law enforcement officials are poorly trained and lack resources to enforce the law effectively.

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