Guinea Bissau: ITUC denounces unlawful seizure of trade union offices

photo: The government of Umaro Sissoco Embaló must respect and support independent trade unions (photo: Amanuel Sileshi AFP)

The ITUC denounces the seizure of the offices of the Union Nationale des Travailleurs de Guinée Bissau (UNTG-CS) by a faction led by disgruntled former trade unionists, with the alleged support of the government of Guinea Bissau.

Despite a court validating the fifth Congress of UNTG-CS in October that elected the current leadership, an unauthorised rebel group held a parallel trade union Congress falsely using the UNTG-CS name last month.

The legitimate UNTG-CS filed complaints to the government against the rebel group’s leaders for unlawful interference, but the government ignored this call.

On 4 May, the UNTG-CS closed its offices to avoid a confrontation with the rebel group and called for police support. However, the group broke into the premises with government support and took control of it.

Culture of impunity

The ITUC calls upon the government of Guinea Bissau to publicly denounce the illegal action of the rebel group, intervene to return the offices of the UNTG-CS to the legitimate leadership and guarantee their security.

The culture of impunity in Guinea Bissau and the disregard for the rule of law cannot be tolerated. The government must respect its Constitution that guarantees in article 45 the ‘…adequate protection to trade union representatives against any form of restriction on the legitimate undertaking of their functions’.

Interference in trade unions by the government through proxies masquerading as trade unionists must stop and the international community should not recognise this rebel group.

The ITUC has been following the developments in Guinea Bissau with concern since 2021 and in March condemned the state surveillance of UNTG-CS leaders.