Labour and Trade Union Freedom in Equatorial Guinea

Labour and Trade Union Freedom in Equatorial Guinea

Alicia Campos Serrano and Plácido Micó Abogo Fundación Paz y Solidaridad Serafín Aliaga de Comisiones Obreras | January 1, 2006
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This study analyzes workers’ conditions and rights in Equatorial Guinea. The beginning of this study shows a synthetic description of current working conditions and workers’ rights in the country based on different human rights reports. The second part covers the intense labor history of what is known today as Equatorial Guinea from the 19th century to present. The third part analyzes labor relations existing today within the country’s present political and economic context as it would be impossible to understand them otherwise. And lastly, the fourth part observes workers’ organizational initiatives, the difficulties they encounter and existing future prospects for a trade union movement in Equatorial Guinea.

"Almost 40 years after the Equatorial Guinean people gained independence from Spain in 1968, still under the Franco dictatorship, they have not regained their freedom nor democracy. They are still subject to the dictatorship of one of the most corrupt rulers in Africa: Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who ousted and succeeded his uncle, the cruel dictator Macías Nguema, in 1979. 

Almost 15 years after the discovery and exploitation of important oilfields in the Equatorial Guinean continental platform seabed, which has multiplied the country’s GDP by 20, most of the population lives in extreme poverty. Life expectancy hardly exceeds the age of 43, children under 5 mortality rate is 146 per thousand and the main causes of death are still malaria and respiratory and intestinal infections. Equatorial Guinea holds a significant and sad record: the biggest difference between the world placing regarding GDP per capita and the U.N. Human Development Index: if in 1998 there were only a difference of 4 positions, in 2005 Equatorial Guinea achieved the record: 93 positions. (...)

The conclusions of this excellent study are forceful and with a very solid base. We would like to point out one of them: the Guinean economic model –based on oil exploitation since the mid-90s and that generates up to 85% of the GDP- has strengthened the dictatorship and made the governing class rich while the vast majority of the population has not benefited from the national income’s exponential increase. In the words of the authors: “Oil production profits nurture mass corruption and does not benefit the general welfare of the population ... they foster repression, impoverishment and political co-optation which are the main tools of social domination in the country”..."

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