Guinea agreement heralds better conditions for road transport workers

After a four-day general strike in Guinea, West Africa involving ITF road transport unions the FSPNTMG-CNTG and the FESYLITEM-GUI, the country’s two national trade union centres signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with employers and the government on 19 February.

The Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs de Guinée (CNTG) and Union des Syndicats des Travaillerus de Guinée (USTG) had been pressing for several demands, including proper negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement, a reduction in fuel costs, the removal of irregular road blocks, an end to harassment on the roads, and improved road safety.

Under the MoU, the government pledged to immediately remove all non-conventional road blocks, and strict monitoring and compliance will be carried out by all parties through a permanent joint consultative committee, which will advise the government on best labour practice for national development.

The price of fuel will remain at 8,000 GNF (equivalent to USD 1.4) a litre until December 2016, although if the oil price drops below USD 57 a barrel, the parties must agree new fuel prices within 90 days.

The MoU signatories also agreed to resume in March the negotiations of the collective bargaining agreements at the General Labour Inspectorate.

Bayla Sow, ITF Francophone Africa and ECOWAS countries representative, commented: “Governments in West Africa – Burkina Faso and now Guinea – seem to be setting bad examples, signing agreements mainly after industrial action, despite the fact that the labour elements raised by transport workers in those agreements generally boost national economies. Only in Niger the government did the right thing and signed a good agreement without workers having to go on strike.

“The principles on social dialogue in ILO convention 144 principles must be respected for peace in transport and other sectors."

The ITF head office in London welcomed the signing of the MoU and said it would be watching developments. The ITF unions and the national centres in Guinea had welcomed the ITF’s letter of support when the tripartite negotiations failed, leading to the strike action beginning on 15 February.

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