4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Mauritania

The ITUC affiliates in Mauritania are the Confédération Générale des Travailleurs de Mauritanie (CGTM), the Confédération Libre des Travailleurs de Mauritanie (CLTM), the Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs de Mauritanie (CNTM) and the Union des Travailleurs de Mauritanie (UTM).

In practice

Browse by:

Anti-slavery activism severely repressed27-01-2016

On 27 January 2016, the local authorities of Dar Naim prohibited the holding of a rally organised by the Confédération Libre des Travailleurs de Mauritanie (CLTM) with the support of the Spanish agency for international development cooperation, AECID. They claimed that the decision had been taken due to the “political” nature of the rally, although it was simply intended to mark the launch of an awareness-raising campaign on slavery. The country continues to be severely affected by this scourge, both in its traditional and its contemporary forms. During 2015, the trade union centres received daily complaints from Mauritanian women returning from Saudi Arabia, where they had been the victims of human trafficking. The trade unions also alerted the ITUC and other international trade union organisations that hundreds of Mauritanian women continue to be trapped in forced labour in Saudi Arabia. A vigorous trade union campaign was therefore launched. Although Mauritania has continued to strengthen its legal arsenal designed to fight slavery - it was among the first countries to ratify the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Protocol of 2014 against forced labour – in practice, the exploiters are rarely troubled. By contrast, three well-known anti-slavery activists were arrested in November 2014 and condemned, in 2015, to two years in prison.

Negotiations abandoned at SNIM, police repression at union meeting 06-11-2015

On 6 November, in Zouérat, the authorities tried to stop SNIM workers from holding a general meeting. As the workers made their way to the place where the meeting was due to take place, the police stood in their path. According to the Confédération Générale des Travailleurs de Mauritanie (CGTM), the police barricade was not able to stop the workers from reaching the trade union office. The police, however, continued with their acts of provocation, using teargas bombs in the room where the meeting was being held. At the beginning of 2015, the SNIM had seen the longest strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in its history. It had ended on 3 April with a commitment from the management to hold negotiations on the workers’ demands, but at the beginning of November it had still not honoured its pledge. The general meeting had been organised to enable the workers’ representatives to report on their frustrated attempts to move forward with the negotiations and to decide what action to take.

Bad faith bargaining by mining company followed by harassment and intimidation of union delegates:19-06-2015

Workers at the National Industrial and Mining Company (SNIM) went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 28 January 2015 to demand that the company honour pay rises agreed on 3 May 2014. Mohamed Abdallahi, General Secretary of the General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CGTM) explained that workers had negotiated and obtained increases from SNIM, the level to be determined by the board of directors, to take effect last October, at the same time as overtime and production bonuses. However the company constantly delayed the process, and the union became convinced it never seriously intended to honour its agreement. When the union finally announced on 14 January there would be a stoppage on 28 January to press for the respect of their demands, the company was quick to intimidate the workers and exert pressure on their union leaders. The company distributed flyers in the workplace warning workers not to take part in the stoppage. The workers’ delegates were given express orders not to use their offices on company premises to hold meetings with the workers, and the local police in Zouerate parked a police vehicle outside the union premises shortly before a rally was due to start. Then on the evening 22 January two union representatives, Kénémé Demba and Ahmed ould Abeily, were summoned to appear before the local Prefect. On 27 January three union representatives, Ahmed ould Abeily, Yaya Gaye and Mohamed ould Mohamed Salem, were informed that they would be laid off from 28 January until 4 February 2015, in a very obvious attempt to make it difficult for them to communicate with their colleagues. The workers went ahead with their action, and what had been foreseen as a six-hour stoppage became an all-out strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. Ahmed Vall Cheibani, the leader of one of the workers’ unions at SNIM, affiliatd to the National Confederation of Mautitanian Workers, (CNTM), was sacked on 12 February 2015, supposedly for lack of respect to a superior, without being able to defend himself against the charges. The CNTM protested at the dismissal, which was a blatant retaliation for his role in the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
dragged on, and the CGTM announced a march in solidarity with the SNIM workers’ strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
at the end of February. They were refused permission by the authorities however, on the grounds that their march would disrupt the traffic, despite the fact that the planned route did not go through the area the authorities claimed would be affected. The Free Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CLTM) also reported that workers had been threatened with eviction from company housing and that the company was refusing to restock the on-site store for the duration of the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. By late March 2015 the dispute had still not been resolved.

National centre refused the right to hold anti-slavery rally; earlier protests repressed:19-06-2015

The government refused the Free Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CLTM) the right to hold a two rallies on 27 and 28 January 2015, in Kissal and Dar Naim, in collaboration with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), to draw public awareness to the issue of slavery and the laws surrounding it. The grounds for refusal were that trade unions should not involve themselves in politics, ignoring the fact that slavery, as a blatant violation of all labour rights, has long been a trade union issue. The proposal to hold the rallies followed the sentencing to two years’ imprisonment of three prominent Mauritanian anti-slavery activists Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, president of the NGO Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA), the IRA’s vice-president Brahim Ould Bilal Ramdane, and Djiby Sow, president of the anti-slavery NGO Kawtal on 15 January 2015. The three had been held in custody since 11 November 2014 following their participation in a rally calling for the right of slave farmers to own the land they cultivate, a key feature in the country’s own National Roadmap to End Slavery. Five others had been arrested with them but were acquitted at the trial. National trade union centres, including the General Workers’ Confederation of Mauritania (CGTM) condemned the arrests at the time and many protests followed. The trial went ahead however, and was riddled with irregularities and violations of the defendants’ rights. Dozens of supporters protested outside the courthouse and the prosecutor’s office during the trial. The police used teargas and batons to disperse the crowd, reportedly leaving four injured. Mauritania did not criminalise slavery until 2007. There are an estimated 180,000 slaves in the country, yet there has only been one conviction for slavery in the last eight years.

Consultation24-09-2014

The government excludes the CGTM from the National Labour Council, which is a consultative body that discusses labour-related issues. In practice, the government does not discuss legislation or policy related to labour with the CGTM. The government favours unions that are closer to it politically and does not take criteria of representativity into account as foreseen in the Labour Code.

Mass dismissal Kinross18-05-2014

The company Kinross-Tasiast, extracting and processing gold ore dismissed about 300 workers in 2013 for redundancy. The Confederation Libre des Travailleurs de Mauritanie (CLTM) argues that these dismissals are not justified as the economic situation of the company is stable. Workers have also reported that they are forced to do overtime work and are exposed to inadequate working conditions.

On 18 February 2014, workers demonstrated at the offices of the Prime Minister against these violations but were violently repressed by the security forces with tear gas. About 20 workers, including union representative Boubacar Ould Merzoug, were then detained at the police station of Ksar district in Nouakchott.

Arrests during demonstrations18-05-2014

The General Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CGTM) reports that arrests of unionists during demonstration are common, even though they are released soon after. Repression by force is reported in the case of the Nouakchott’s Harbour Dockers, and in the Mining sector at large, where Mohamed Ould was killed during Police intervention in July 2012. Repeated cases of intimidation, threats and dismissals at Tasiast and Akjoujt Mines have occurred. Employers frequently hire replacement workers in order to break strikes.

Violence and murder of unionists30-06-2012
Interference in strikes30-06-2013

Capital Drilling dismissed workers who had participated in a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and stated that it would reinstate the workers if they left the union and agreed to work under a fixed term contracts rather their previous permanent contracts.

Representativeness undermined26-01-2012

The trade union movement became increasingly fragmented during 2011. The Intersyndicale, grouping major union centres, became a thing of the past, in the midst of political rivalry and power struggles exacerbated by the government. By placing all 19 trade union centres on an equal footing, in breach of the labour legislation establishing representativeness criteria, the authorities effectively discriminated against the main organisations, depriving them in some instances of representation on tripartite bodies. On 27 April, the Confédération nationale des travailleurs de Mauritanie (CNTM) and the Confédération générale des travailleurs de Mauritanie (CGTM) denounced the tripartite negotiations charade and demanded representation elections. Their demands were ignored, in spite of the 2008 agreement on the holding and funding of these elections. The two confederations also called for the establishment of genuine social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. through the creation of a permanent consultation structure.

Obstacles to the election of workplace representatives 30-11-2011

The Confédération générale des travailleurs de Mauritanie (CGTM) denounced the blocking of union elections by public and parastatal institutions as well as many private companies. The CGTM also denounced interference by employers (such as the national water company Société nationale de l’eau or the Mauritanian Securities Services, etc.) promoting alternative lists of candidates affiliated to more malleable or corrupt trade union centres.

Every kind of ruse was used to prevent genuine union representation. For example, when the management at the food manufacturer Mauritanienne des produits alimentaires (MPA) realised that the CGTM was the only union to put forward a list of candidates, it wasted no time in presenting its own list, made up of company executives. On having its list rejected by the Labour Inspectorate, the company was then equally quick to launch a direct attack on two of the three CGTM candidates, firing one and pushing the other one to resign. At Agrineq (public maintenance works), the two CGTM workplace representatives (out of three in total) also faced persecution: one had his wages stopped for two months and the other found himself faced with a dismissal request, on grounds ultimately rejected by the labour inspectorate.

Interference and relentless anti-union tactics by many employers31-12-2010

In many companies, employers are ruthless with trade union activists, and sometimes do not hesitate to dismiss them with impunity. There is constant interference in trade union affairs. Trade union elections are delayed, manipulated or banned (Macore, Mauritel, Bemop, the Autonomous Port of Nouakchott, etc.). In the private sector, the increasing use of sub-contracting has weakened the trade union struggle. But multinational companies are also guilty of anti-union tactics. In January, for example, the Free Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CLTM) denounced the aggressive behaviour of a Coca Cola executive towards his staff, particularly on the grounds of their union membership.

© ITUC-CSI-IGB 2013 | www.ituc-csi.org | Contact Design by Pixeleyes.be - maps: jVectorMap