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.