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Côte d'Ivoire: Improving workers’ rights and introducing complaint mechanisms

Voicing complaints without fear

Côte d'Ivoire complaint mechanisms Workers' Rights



First phase of training for both management and unions. 

Could you tell us how the initiative to improve workers’ rights and complaint mechanisms at Société de Transport d’Abidjan (SOTRA) came about?

“Our union, CISL Dignité, has always been a platform where workers can present their complaints and claims without fear,” says Hyacinthe Coulibaly, Assistant Programme Coordinator for CISL Dignité. “However, our members from various companies have often faced difficulties in exercising their right to organise and engage in collective negotiations. When we approached the employers’ organisation CGECI to raise awareness about these issues, they demanded evidence of rights violations. Unfortunately, we had no mechanisms to collect such complaints.”


“Complaint mechanisms set up by the trade union mark a significant step forward in ensuring that workers can voice their complaints without fear. With more companies following SOTRA’s example, we hope to see a widespread improvement in workers’ rights along with a culture of open social dialogue and fair negotiations across the country.”
Hyacinthe Coulibaly (Assistant Programme Coordinator, CISL Dignité)


While SOTRA management had already set up employer-financed complaint registers, Drissa Diarrasouba, Leader of USASO Trade Union at SOTRA, explains that workers refused to use them due to fear of being identified and facing reprisals. This was a significant barrier to voicing their grievances. “We talked about this with CNV Internationaal”, says Hyacinthe, “and together we developed a comprehensive programme.” Here is a brief timeline of the following efforts: 

  • 2021: First phase of training for both management and unions was launched. 
  • April 2022: ILO Conventions C87 and C98 promoted and advocated to CGECI by CISL Dignité, supported by CNV Internationaal’s Africa team. 
  • Mid-2022: Proof of rights violations demanded by CGECI. We were unable to do this due to a lack of collection mechanisms. 
  • August 2022: Strategic plan prioritising the implementation of effective complaint collection mechanisms devised with CNV Internationaal. 
  • June 2023: Awareness-raising sessions among company managers and workers. 
  • August 2023: New complaint collection mechanisms installed and activated.


Instalment of the complaint box at the SOFITEL hotel, with at the left Mr. Zime Yogbe, leader of the union Syndicat Libre des travailleurs at the Sofitel; in the middle M. Hyacinthe Coulibaly assistant programme coordinator of our partner union CISL Dignité; and to the right M. Victor Koffie, Maître d’hôtel of the Sofitel.

Côte d'Ivoire complaint mechanisms Workers' Rights

At least 4100 workers benefit

“The new mechanisms, installed by the union itself, have reassured the workers,” says Hyacinth. “At least 4,100 workers at SOTRA directly benefit from these mechanisms. Workers now feel safer and more confident about reporting their grievances.” 

We have shared the example of SOTRA with other companies and it has inspired them to adopt similar mechanisms. Companies from various economic sectors, including chemicals (SIPROCHIM), hotels (SOFITEL ABIDJAN, HOTEL IVOIRE), breweries (BRASSIVOIRE HEINEKEN), and wood processing (Société TROPICAL BOIS, INPRO BOIS), as well as the Société Ivoirienne de Raffinerie, have registered with CISL Dignité to implement these mechanisms.

Publication date 28 05 2024