Senegal: the latest workplace elections shuffle the deck of teacher trade unionism

published 5 September 2017 updated 6 September 2017

The first representative elections in Senegal's education sector, in which one out of ten trade unions was declared representative, have created a unique trade union landscape and fostered new alliances.

Accelerating union work aimed at achieving unity

These elections were held for the purpose of clarifying the representativeness of many Senegalese teachers' unions.

One of the four Education International (EI) affiliates, the Democratic Union of Teachers in Senegal (Union Démocratique des Enseignantes et des Enseignants du Sénégal - UDEN), was able to exceed the 10 percent threshold, and is therefore recognised as a representative union, at the first representative elections held in the education sector in Senegal on 26 April. The UDEN is thus able to attend the official consultation meetings held with the ministry.

Given that contract teacher numbers have gradually exceeded the number of state teachers over the past 20 years, this situation was reflected in the results of the election. Among the unions that came out on top, both in primary and secondary education, many are grouping together a large proportion of contract teachers.

These results have puzzled the Senegalese unions, which have been forced to revise their strategy and roadmap for their work aimed at achieving unity. For the time being, broad unitary frameworks do not seem to have survived the elections, and a grouping of non-representative unions seems to be looming, as is regular joint work by representative unions.

Faced with these risks of division, the five EI affiliates have decided to accelerate their cooperation within the Trade union Federation for Quality Education (Union Syndicale pour une Education de Qualité - USEQ) for the purpose of merging in the long term.