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Nation-wide Staff Representative Elections Postponed

 The National Labour Consultative Board has been convened for April 3, 2013 in Yaounde.

Workers are in suspense following the recent suspension of elections of staff representatives in enterprises in the country. The institution of staff representatives is recognised by the Labour Code and Convention Number 144 on Tripartite Negotiations which Cameroon ratified. By the Cameroon Labour Code, staff representatives are elected every two years in enterprises. At the beginning of every two years, the Minister of Labour and Social Security comes out with an order to announce the period for the election of staff representatives and the modalities of such elections. The last election of staff representatives held in 2011.

In January 2013, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Gregroire Owona, signed an order summoning the electoral college of staff representatives for the elections to hold from February 1 to April 30, 2013. After the Minister's decision, a good number of trade unions wrote petitions asking for a postponement of the elections. In February 2013, the Minister held a meeting with the trade unions to find out why they asked for postponement. Out of the 11 confederations, four asked for the continuation of the elections while seven others called for postponement. The reasons they advanced were that the law which lays out the conditions for the election of staff representatives in enterprises and they therefore asked for review Order Number 019 of May 1993 do not permit for enough transparency of the law.

Another reason is the ballot papers. The law now says that each trade union has a ballot paper. The trade unionists think that it gives room for corruption and that they want a single ballot paper. Tthe present law provides that elections can be held over a long period of time, but they think that it allows trade union presidents to carry out certain acts of corruption and tilt voters to their side. So, they want that the elections to hold on one day. Secondly, the law provides that the election of staff representatives and alternates are held differently. They think that it is cumbersome and are suggesting that the substantive and the alternate be elected at the same time on one list. The trade unionists want that the labour inspectors should be out of the elections as they believe trade unionists connive with labour inspectors.

Inspector General of Labour in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, John Yewoh Forchu said for that reason, the Minister in his posture of social dialogue decided to postpone the elections. He explained that if a date has not yet been fixed, it is because the Law Number 019 of May 1993 has to be modified. The Minister has already convened the National Labour Consultative Board which for April 3, 4, and 5, 2013 in Yaounde for the law to be examined.