Guinea: the international trade union conference brings hope to a suffering country

The main union centres in Guinea will be holding a major international trade union conference to promote (...)

Brussels, 23 May 2007: The main union centres in Guinea, the CNTG, the USTG, the ONSGL and the UDTG, supported by the ITUC, and African regional organisations DWATU and the AFRO, will be holding a major international trade union conference to promote Guinea’s development on 23 and 24 May in Conakry, the capital. The conference will address three main issues: economic and social development, governance and institutions, and human rights.

The Conference will conclude its work by adopting a road map highlighting the demands of the trade union movement and Guinea’s civil society for the long process of consolidating peace, democracy and development in Guinea.

The first half of 2007 was marked by a massive mobilisation of Guinean workers. On 2 January, the ’Intercentrale’ (united trade union front of the CNTG and USTG) was enlarged to include the ONSLG and the UDTG and proceeded to call an unlimited general strike following the release by President Lansana Conté of two prominent individuals from the private sector accused of serious financial corruption. The failure by the government to respect the agreements it signed with the unions in 2006 was another factor sparking off the strike, as were the continual worsening of living conditions since 2006 and the lack of political will to remedy the situation.

Though the strike was well supported it was quickly met with violent repression, and pressure was put on the union leaders Rabiatou Diallo of the CNTG, Ibrahim Fofana of the USTG and Yamadou Toure of the ONSLG to call off the strike. On 27 January the President agreed to meet the unions and begin negotiations. The talks led to a Memorandum of Understanding providing for the establishment of a government based on a broad consensus, a separation of powers and protection of human rights and of the right to issue socio-economic demands.

The general strike started again on 9 February after the nomination to the post of Prime Minister of the former right-hand man of President Conté. A new wave of repression followed the renewal of the strike and a state of siege was declared. Over 129 people were killed and 1,700 injured during January and February. The new nomination by the President of a consensus Prime Minister, Lansana Kouyate, who had been proposed by the trade union organisations, succeeded in calming the situation. The challenges facing the new Prime Minister are considerable and include providing guarantees on respect of human rights, identifying the perpetrators of the violence and re-establishing democratic institutions.

“The conference on reconstruction and national reconciliation provides real hope to Guineans as they await the elections at the end of 2007”, stated Guy Ryder, ITUC General Secretary. “Though Guinea is now in a period of transition, redressing the social situation will be an even longer process. The challenge of consolidating democracy must meet the people’s hopes and aspirations”, he added.

To see the information and analyse trade union document (in French) click here

Founded on November 1 2006, the ITUC represents 168 million workers in 153 countries and territories and has 304 national affiliates.

For more information, please contact Isabelle Hoferlin, in charge of the Africa desk:
E-mail: [email protected]

or the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.