“We were ‘surprised’ by an official correspondence pounding the illegality of SYMEC. We then questioned the laws of the Republic. Is the SYMEC illegal? If this is the case, if the Cameroon Doctors’ Union is illegal, when did it break the law? This question leads us to examine the texts in force in Cameroon and to read them in the light of the procedure followed by the SYMEC.
The Constitution of Cameroon enshrines freedom of association and the right to strike in its Preamble. It states: “… freedom of association and the right to strike are guaranteed under the conditions laid down by law”. The physicians of Cameroon, in creating the SYMEC, intended to enjoy, with full responsibility, the fundamental freedoms of the citizen in general and the worker in particular. There is therefore no violation of the Constitution by SYMEC to our understanding.
Cameroon has ratified several conventions of the International Labor Organization. In particular, it has ratified Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organize and on Collective Bargaining. These conventions, due to their ratification by Cameroon, are essential in Cameroonian domestic law. According to our Constitution, “Treaties or international agreements regularly approved or ratified have, from their publication, an authority superior to that of laws …”
The first Convention enshrines the absence of prior authorization to form trade union organizations. In practical terms, this means that the existence of the SYMEC is not subject to authorization under the Convention. On the other hand, a declaration is compulsory after the formation of the union. As such, SYMEC has regularly filed its constitution file with the SDO’s office of Yaoundé. They has proof of this compulsory deposit. The SYMEC is not responsible for the rest of the procedure. No notification was received concerning any additional information to be provided. The Ministry of Public Health does not have jurisdiction over the legality of a trade union organization in the present state of Cameroon’s positive law.