Education International
Education International

Burkina Faso: trade union women’s congress

published 18 February 2013 updated 19 February 2013

The Fédération des syndicats nationaux des travailleurs de l’éducation et de la recherche (F-SYNTER), held its fourth women’s congress on 26 January in Ougadougou. The education union received financial support from German colleagues in the Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Bildung (GEW), also an EI affiliate.

Importance of members’ dues

Aside from the financial report and the election of a women’s committee, the congress discussed the theme, “Leadership”, and the planned introduction of a ‘’money transfer” payment of dues system.

Participants agreed that human and financial resources were necessary to enable a union to be powerful and function successfully and fight successfully for better working conditions and pay.

In his speech, acting F-SYNTER President Souleymane Badiel underlined the importance of membership fees and detailed the new "check-off" method for the collection of union dues. So far, union dues were more or less successfully collected in cash from members. To improve the F-SYNTER financial base, the last trade union congress in 2011 had decided upon adoption of the  so-called “check-off” system: the cashless collection of 0.5 per cent of the annual salary directly from a member's account.

GEW representative Sabine Tölke-Rückert, a guest participant, conveyed greetings and best wishes for the event from GEW.

Women discuss “Leadership”

The F-SYNTER Board member responsible for women's work, Fati Ilboudo, gave a presentation on “Leadership”.

Afterwards, women were given the opportunity to split into five groups of 10 people to test their leadership skills. They then gathered in plenary to share experiences. The Chairman of the Women's Committee, Marguerite Tougma, also presented the Committee’s Annual Report.

The fact that there are seven regional women's committees of the F-SYNTER in Burkina Faso, significantly increasing the union mobilisation of women, was welcomed.

The large number of young teachers who participated for the first time in a women's conference was also noted. The seriousness of women’s involvement in trade union activities is also reflected in that they participated in the Congress on a Saturday, therefore reducing their income, as many work on weekends for additional income.

In the elections to the Executive Board of the Women's Committee, Marguerite Tougma was confirmed as chairperson. Five women were also elected to the committee. F-SYNTER remains the only union in the Burkina Faso trade union federation – the Confédération générale du travail du Burkina – which has a national women's committee with regional offices.