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Sudan: Protest against reinstatement of former unions affiliated with Al Bashir regime

June 28 - 2022 KHARTOUM
Protest of unions and professionals' organisations in front of the Labour Organisations Registrar against the reinstatement of Al Bashir affiliated unions.
Protest of unions and professionals' organisations in front of the Labour Organisations Registrar against the reinstatement of Al Bashir affiliated unions.

Twenty professional and trade union groups organised a vigil in front of the office of the Labour Organisations Registrar in Khartoum on Sunday afternoon to protest the reinstatement of the trade unions affiliated with the former regime of Omar Al Bashir.

The professional groups challenge the legitimacy of the registrar’s formation of committees tasked with the facilitation of the re-establishment of unions, syndicates, and other professional associations after these were dismantled during the term of former PM Abdallah Hamdok.

They announced their categorical rejection of the registrar's decisions to appoint members from the general assemblies of the unions to “unelected steering committees”. They said that it is clear that the aim of the registrar is “to tutelage and control the union movement and its gains, and to obstruct the civil and democratic transition”.

The participants in the vigil consider the decision a clear violation of the procedures of trade union work and a clear violation of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 87 on trade union freedoms, which entered into force since March, as well as a violation of Convention No. 98 on the right to organise and collective bargaining.

The most prominent groups participating in the vigil are the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, the National Teachers Committee, the Legitimate Doctors Syndicate, the Engineers Association, the Laboratories Committee, and the Democratic Alliance of Lawyers.

In Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, a similar vigil was staged on Sunday.

Separately, the Oil Workers Association organised a protest vigil in cooperation with the No Return* Alliance coalition of apostasy in front of the Ministry of Oil in Khartoum on Sunday morning to reject the military coup and in prepare for the June 30 ‘intifada’ Marches of the Millions.

The participants chanted slogans calling for the overthrow of the putschists and for full civilian rule.

Protest in front of the Labour Organisations Registrar in Khartoum (social media)


Sudan trade unions

Trade unions in Sudan, officially established in 1947, have always been well-organised. They were instrumental in the October 1964 Revolution, which overthrew Ibrahim Abboud’s dictatorship, and the popular uprising against President Jaafar El Nimeiri in March 1985 when the people chose their leadership represented by the Union Association. For this reason, the regime of Al Bashir dissolved the trade unions and other professional associations a year after it took power in a military coup in June 1989 and established new unions with members affiliated with the new regime.

When the Al Bashir regime was overthrown and a transitional government was installed after a popular revolution, the civilian government of PM Abdallah Hamdok, which shared power with the military, dismantled the unions affiliated with the former regime as part of legal reforms to dismantle the former dictatorial regime.

However, now that the military is in full power again after the coup d’état of October 25 against Hamdok, the authorities are planning to reinstate many of these Al Bashir-affiliated unions. They did something similar after taking power in the 2019 coup. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA) said at the time that it rejects the “unions of the establishment”, explaining that “these unions do the opposite of real union work”.

Earlier this month, 27 workers’ groups staged a vigil in front of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) offices in Khartoum in protest against plans of the military govt that took power in the October 25 coup to restore the legitimacy of trade unions set up by the ousted regime of dictator Omar Al Bashir.

* No Return -to the situation before the 2019 coup/Al Bashir regime- is the slogan of the Sudanese protesting the rule of the military junta. They categorically reject any dialogue or negotiations with the military, in particular after the coup d’état of October 25 last year.

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