DRC protests
Protestors opposing DRC privatisation plans

Cotton backs affiliates in urging DRC rethink over privatisation plans

Unions battling government plans to privatise one of the biggest companies operating in the railways, inland navigation and ports in the Democratic Republic of Congo today received the backing of the ITF.

The DRC government has recently embarked on a process of privatisation of the Société Commerciale des Transports et Ports ‘SCTP’ and has invited parties to submit their interest to operate the concession by 9 November.

ITF affiliates have been organising various activities – including a work stoppage at the company headquarters on 23 October – to raise awareness among workers and to demand that the government reconsider the proposed restructuring.

In a letter today to DRC president Joseph Kabila, ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said: “We are disappointed to learn that the rights and benefits of workers have not been taken into account and that the unions have not been involved as social partners in the process of restructuring as per the legislative provisions. Instead, we have noted that the leaders of our affiliates can face intimidation and threats to their person simply for representing workers.

“There is no doubt that such privatisation will affect both workers and the public...The ITF has seen many cases of failed privatisation around the world over the past three decades and so we urge the government to reconsider its position.”

Cotton reminded the president of the universal rights of workers to join a union, to bargain collectively and to take strike action free from intimidation, as enshrined in International Labour Organisation conventions.

He concluded: “Any reprisals against legitimate protest action will be condemned by the international trade union movement. We urge you to use your good offices to facilitate meaningful dialogue and negotiations with the unions in order to take into account the legitimate demands of the workers and to secure the future of the company.”