From the TUC

Seasonal solidarity news #1: Good news from Ivory Coast

22 Dec 2012, By

Over the Christmas and New Year holidays, we’ll be reporting on some of the trade union struggles that are underway around the world, often in countries where Christmas isn’t such a big deal, either for cultural reasons or because of extreme poverty. Sadly, many of the posts will be about trade unionists facing Christmas in jail, or facing repression. Some regimes (see tomorrow’s story on Iran, for example) use the fact that countries with active trade union movements are often on holiday at this time of year to do sickening things in the hopes we won’t notice or be able to mount protests.

But let’s start with some Christmas cheer. In the Ivory Coast, trade unionists are celebrating the release on Thursday of jailed trade union leader Basile Mahan Gahé.

The General Secretary of ITUC-affiliated Confédération Ivoirienne des Syndicat Libres (CISL-DIGNITE) was abducted in April 2011, detained and tortured, on trumped up charges of sedition and insurrectionary activity. In truth, he was exercising his fundamental human rights of freedom of association. That was the finding of ILO when it considered his case in March 2012, after a mass campaign led by the ITUC and the International Union of Foodworkers and including groups like Banana Link, Make Fruit Fair and Amnesty International – the TUC protested to the Ivory Coast’s Ambassador in London. That sort of alliance is tremendously powerful in spreading the word about trade union rights, and maximising our impact on repressive regimes.

It was the second time that the ILO had helped Basile Mahan Gahé, who had previously been assisted by the Committee on Freedom of Association in the 1990s, demonstrating that trade unions in some countries face repeated attacks on their liberty.

But for now, Basile is free, and able to celebrate Christmas with his family, friends and comrades.