FESTU report exposes labour violations by FAVORI, entrenched culture of abuse and disregard for national law

The Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU), has today released a scathing report exposing the unrestrained and insidious abuse of workers’ rights by FAVORI LCC, the Turkish company managing Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport.

FAVORI’s labour practices are in gross violation of Somali labour law, and are in direct conflict with international labour standards and practices. Workers are not only exposed to poor occupational safety and health but also face unfair treatment by the company that has been managing Somalia’s international airport since 15 September 2013.

The umbrella body of Somali labourers says workers at FAVORI lack basic protections under the law because of the firm’s collusion with powerful political figures in Somalia. They are denied the right to organize under a labour union and penalized for any attempts to assert their rights. They are also cheated of their wages and work under an atmosphere of fear.

Titled FAVORI’s ABUNDANT ABUSES, the report documents serious occupational health and safety violations; wage theft through denial of pay for work done, holding workers in near bondage and levels of compensation that are not commensurate with market realities.

Workers are also subjected to inhumane treatment with those that suffer injuries at the workplace neither given medical support or compensation. The report features disturbing images of workers who were abandoned after suffering injuries to their limbs.

“FAVORI LLC operates with impunity and is a purveyor of corruption at high levels of government to avoid accountability. The company has taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to further entrench its exploitative practices and tactics of intimidation against workers,” observes FESTU General Secretary Omar Faruk Osman.

“The overall result of these unacceptable practices is a denial of workers the right to exercise their fundamental labour rights such as freedom of association and collective bargaining and also subjecting them to repressive and anti-union practices designed to prevent them from organizing. This has perpetuated a culture of discrimination against workers – a situation that has given rise to an increase in in-work poverty,” he added.

FESTU says despite the company earning huge profits, FAVORI LLC workers continue to wallow in abject poverty because of low pay. They are also forced to work in hazardous, inhumane and unacceptable working conditions. The company is also actively engaged in activities intended to disrupt and destabilise union activities.

According to FESTU, managers at FAVORI openly boast of their connections to powerful figures in the Somalia government and have refused to engage in collective bargaining negotiations and social dialogue initiated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MOLSA).

In a show of impunity, Berk Demir, a Station Manager at FAVORI is reported to have openly told workers that “We will not engage the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs because we have the protection of the Minister of Justice of Somalia and the Embassy of Turkey. We do not care about their demands. Whatever they send to us, we send to the Minister and to our ambassador to talk to people in government.”

A worker who attempted to speak on behalf of other workers was dismissed by FAVORI allegedly for “tutoring” other workers on how to perpetrate “bad conduct”. He was dismissed without prior warning or fair hearing. This case is now at Banadir Regional Court. 

“The Workers employed by FAVORI LLC are demanding decent wages, benefits, and other improved working conditions to enable them and their families lead simple but decent lives. They want a safe and healthy work environment that is free from injury, disease, violence and harassment. They want equal pay for work of equal value regardless of gender and/or nationality. Above all, they want their fundamental rights at work and civil liberties to be fully respected,” FESTU says in its report.

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