Widespread international condemnation of violations in Congo

ICFTU Online..., 1 August 2002

Brussels 1 August, 2002 (ICFTU OnLine): An international outcry against violations of trade union rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo has followed a call from the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) for solidarity for 9 trade unionists currently appealing a ten month prison sentence for legitimate trade union activities in the country.

Thousands of trade unionists and labour activists worldwide have bombarded Congolese President Joseph Kabila with letters and e-mail messages demanding the release of the unionists representing workers at the Compagnie sucrière de Kwilu Ngongo, who were jailed in June this year, charged with having written strike leaflets. The appeal has been taken up by dozens of national trade union centres on all 4 continents, and over two thousand individual trade union activists.

We welcome this important show of international solidarity, said Richard Kadanga, international representative of the ICFTU-affiliated Congolese trade union centre, Confédération Démocratique de Travail (CDT). We must keep up the pressure on the Congolese authorities to ensure the release of the trade unionists, and the respect workers basic human rights in future. The only crime of these nine people has been to pursue legitimate trade union activities covered by ILO conventions 87 and 98, both of which the Democratic Republic of Congo has ratified.

The date for the hearing at the appeal court has been set for Friday 2 August. According to the ICFTU, it is vital to keep up the pressure in order to let President Kabila know that such anti-union behaviour is unacceptable, especially in a country striving for peace and reconciliation after years of draining conflict. His actions and the actions of other abusers of trade union rights worldwide will not go unnoticed.

This is intolerable situation for Congolese trade unions and we hope that President Kabila and the authorities under his control will now resolve the situation, and prevent any further abuses of this kind, said ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder.