During its working history in Africa, the French building company Bouygues and its subsidiaries have been involved in many violations against trade unionists.
At the beginning of the new millennium Bouygues was working on an oil pipeline from Chad to Cameroon. Its employees appealed for their rights on several occasions, demanding, for example, more decent housing conditions, better salaries, the introduction of unemployment benefits and the right to unite under trade unions. The workers called for the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers (IFBWW) to help them in this mission. While some reforms were granted, others remained unresolved. Contacted by the IFBWW, Bouygues refused to engage in a dialogue with them on the topic.
In July 2005, 530 miners were dismissed for striking at the Morila gold mine in Mali. The mine was run by SOMADEX, a Bouygues affiliate. At first the employees were striking for better working conditions, but when 17 of their colleagues were dismissed because of this, they went on an unlimited strike. Instead of stepping down, SOMADEX chose to sack all 530 strikers.
In September of that same year two buses used to transport miners to Morila were burned in the night in the courtyard of the gendarmerie. SOMADEX immediately accused the miners, 32 of whom were arbitrarily arrested. Nine were detained in jails in degrading conditions until November the next year – for a total of 14 months.
In May 2006 a Cameroonian trade unionist was arrested, accused of forgery by DTP Terrassement, a part of Bouygues. The man had acted as a spokesman for 163 road construction workers who had been fired in January for organising a strike. After the arrest, he was transferred more than a thousand kilometres from where he was arrested and held in detention for one week without pertinent questioning, until released unconditionally.
A report published in 2005 by the Alpha Etudes center for economic and social studies shows that the amount of information Bouguyes publishes about their discrimination control activities is below the required level. Bouygues, a major player in the building sector, is best known for its construction projects such as the Grande Arche at La Def�nce in Paris, the Stade de France stadium, the Normandy Bridge and the Channel Tunnel.
Picture " Bouygues