Reminder of the rules of labor law concerning the organization of workers’ unions in Benin

Decree n°2020-458 of September 23, 2020 on the different forms of workers’ union organizations and the criteria for their representativeness

This decree applies to workers’ trade unions.

The decree defines what a professional union is. It is a grouping of persons practicing the same profession, or related or similar professions, for the study and defense of the rights as well as the material and moral interests, both collective and individual, of the persons covered by the statutes, on the one hand, and the contribution to the achievement of the objectives of their production unit, on the other.

There are eight forms of trade union organizations:

  1. the national union: groups together members whose activities fall within the scope of one or more establishments or companies located on the national territory,
  2. the company union: groups together members whose professional activities take place only within the limits of intervention of the said company,
  3. the base union: in a vertical organization, is located at the lowest level of a federation, a central or a trade union confederation to which it is affiliated,
  4. the independent trade union: is not affiliated to any other higher trade union organization
  5. the trade union federation: the vertical grouping of different trade unions operating in the same branch or sector of activity and affiliated to it
  6. the trade union center: the grouping of trade unions, trade union federations and trade union unions,
  7. the trade union confederation: brings together trade unions, trade union federations and union unions, and
  8. the trade union or similar union: horizontal grouping of sections of different trade unions, federations, central unions or trade union confederations, the aim of which is to mobilize mainly the trade union members around common objectives.

In order to be representative, the base union must obtain at least 20% of the votes cast in professional elections, and the same applies to the central or confederations. The representativeness of the trade union centers and confederations is established essentially and separately, by public or private sector of activity. The para-public or mixed sector is assimilated to the private sector.

The representative trade union confederations of workers share out the seats in the representation fora equally after the national, departmental and municipal professional elections, depending on the number of places available.

They have the right to take part in the activities of the consultative and collective bargaining bodies at national level in equal measure according to the number of seats available. If the number of seats is greater than the number of representative trade union confederations of workers, then the remaining seats are allocated in accordance with the results of the last national professional elections. If this number of seats is insufficient, then they are allocated according to the order of representativeness per sector.

Only representative trade union centers or confederations are invited to official events of the government or other administrative authorities, within the limits of available places.

Only the representative nature of the trade union gives it the right to financial support from the State, the company or the establishment, if applicable.

The list of representative trade union organizations is established by order of the Minister of Labor.

Written by Ali Bougrine and Carole Fouldrin.