Madagascan Government faces ILO complaint over 43 sacked dockworkers

The Government of Madagascar faces an International Labour Organization (ILO) complaint over its treatment of 43 dockworkers who were sacked for joining a union.

The complaint has been lodged by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on behalf of the Toamasina Port workers and their union SYGMMA.
Steve Cotton, ITF general secretary, said the global union federation took this action after the Madagascan Government refused to obey a court order which found the workers should be allowed to join a union and organise for better working conditions.
“Many of these workers earn just USD40 a month and were engaged in legitimate union activity to try and improve their working conditions. They face very dangerous working conditions and stood up in the face of intimidation and retaliation from management.
 “The local union took action through the Madagascan Courts and won – yet the Government refuses to obey the court direction. None of the 43 workers who were dismissed for union activity have been reinstated.
“We have not taken this step lightly but unless the Madagascan Government reinstates the sacked workers they will face international condemnation for failure to observe the basic human rights for their own citizens.
“Madagascar faces many challenges following a return to democratic government only in the last few years. The government needs to show the world that basic human rights and access to justice will be respected.
“Many international brands in the clothing industry operate factories in Madagascar and they will be watching this case very closely,” Mr Cotton said.
ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers’ section, Paddy Crumlin said that unions across the world are standing beside the Malagasy 43.
"The government needs to understand that unions across the globe are supporting these workers and won't rest until they receive justice. The ITF will be coordinating escalating action to get the message to the government that they must act to reinstate these workers." Mr Crumlin said.
The lodging of the complaint follows worldwide action last month at Madagascan embassies which highlighted the plight of Malagasy 43.
For more information on the campaign go to
The ICTSI-operated Port of Toamasina is the main gateway for $360 million worth of textile products exported to Europe, $100 million to South Africa, and $60 million to the USA. Major international brands source clothing in Madagascar – including Levi Strauss.
About the ITF
The ITF is an international union federation representing around 700 transport unions, and more than 4.5 million transport workers from 150 countries.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world. In 2009, there was a coup in the country. This resulted in the US putting sanctions on the country that weren’t lifted until 2014.

The maximum a casual worker for SMMC can earn per day is USD9.24 on piece rate – but this is dependent on whether there are any containers on that day. Even though they have a set roster, casual workers are only paid when there are containers to unload. They cannot take other work due to the roster – but they may not get any money for that shift. Many casuals only take home USD40/month, and do not earn enough to support their families. Some workers have been working for 20 years on a casual piece rate, and have never received a pay rise. Talata Gabriel, one of the sacked dock workers said: “I joined the union to fight for my rights, for everything that we deserve as dockers. I had never received a pay increase from the time I started working on the docks in 1995.”
For more details please contact: ITF Sydney Campaign Office: Australia +61402399572 or

Add your comment

All comments