The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and its Nigerien member unions have secured an unprecedented whole-nation collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for Niger’s road transport workers.
Niger is a poor, landlocked, Francophone country in North Africa, but it provides a crucial link in the Trans-Sahara Highway between the Mediterranean countries of Algeria and Libya, and powerful West African economies like Nigeria, as well as an East-West link from Dakar in Senegal.
Road transport is crucial across the region which has no railways, few private cars and little air travel.
The ground-breaking agreement promises to:
- Improve the living and working conditions by introducing minimum standards
- Strengthen social dialogue and the establishment of a peaceful social climate
- Improve the performance of road transport companies
- Reduce the road accidents
Speaking from the signing in the capital, Niamey, ITF Francophone representative Bayla Sow – who was accompanied at the ceremony by ITF/SASK (Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland) project coordinator Assita Ouedraogo – reported:
“This agreement will involve at least 20,000 road transport workers such as taxi, bus and truck drivers who will now benefit from wage minimums; social protection such as accident, health and pension insurance, family benefits, and pensions for accidents at work and occupational diseases; holiday pay; annual leave and measures to control working time.”
He continued: “The opening ceremony was chaired by both the minister of employment, labour and social security and the minister of transport, in the presence of Nigerien ITF unions, the ITN coalition of trade union confederations, and the presidents of the employers’ organisations.
“The ministers welcomed the signing of this CBA, which will enable Niger, a country without a coastline, to have a peaceful social climate in a highly strategic sector. They pledged to facilitate and accelerate the agreement’s effective implementation, following its signing by the unions and employers’ organisations.
“I had the honour to speak on behalf of the ITF to welcome the CBA, and expressed the ITF’s gratitude to SASK, which since 2009 has supported union capacity-building, lobbying and advocacy activities for ITF affiliated unions in Niger.”
He concluded: “From the ITF’s Francophone office in Ouagadougou we now plan to build on this achievement by working towards the improvement of workers’ conditions in the Ivory Coast, Mali and Guinea-Conakry.”
ITF Africas regional secretary Joe Katende commented: “This is a genuinely groundbreaking event, that has followed years of negotiations. History has been made in Niger. The three social partners should quickly take steps to implement this agreement instead of waiting for industrial action.”
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