Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Labour Relations in Burkina

At a recent meeting of our salaried employees, someone voiced a complaint concerning a former employee that had been laid off quite a number of months ago due to the closing of his particular department (he had been offered a job in another department, but had refused).  The plaintiff insisted that the administration should have formally made this person’s layoff known to all staff before it happened, and that the administration had been wrong not to do so.

I’m not sure what purpose it would serve to formally let everyone know that someone is going to get laid off or dismissed, but had I been at the meeting, I would have pointed out that the news of this employee’s upcoming layoff had been shared in a number of informal ways, including at regular staff meetings and in my weekly communications bulletin to all personnel.

In any case, three elected employee representatives came to speak to our Director of Administration on this issue, saying that the administration had been wrong not to formally inform all personnel of the former employee’s upcoming layoff.  They demanded that in the future, they be informed of such things.  Our DA said that this should not be a problem.  He would begin by making a formal announcement of the written warning that one of the elected employee representatives had received recently for being caught goofing off rather than doing his job.  A photocopy of the warning would also be posted on the public bulletin board outside the dining hall to make sure all staff were aware of it.

He was met with expressions of surprise and protests that this was not what they had in mind!  But our DA indicated that by their request, this was indeed among the kind of information they were asking him to make public.  However, according to Burkina labour law, information on an employee’s salary, disciplinary measures, and employment status (among other things) is confidential.  An employee is free to share this kind of information with others if he or she wishes, but the administration cannot formally publicize it.

Therefore, continued our DA, he was very sorry, but he really could not accede to this request by the employee representatives.  And to their credit, they did not argue the point further.