170 Volume 7, Special Issue, October 2017 Juridical Tribune
unequal.4 For this reason and from the beginning, employment law used to be a
protected law because of interest that it showed to the weaker party (employee) of
the contract. In effect, through the intervention of State,5 the classical concept of
freedom known in contract matters lost its true significance in this area for the
purpose of protection.
The right to work as an unconditional one is a fundamental human right6
embodied in the 1996 revised Cameroonian constitution and all international
instruments ratified by Cameroon7 such as the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights,8 the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,9 etc. The preamble of
the Cameroonian constitution of 18 January 1996 proclaimed that everybody has
the right and duty to work and the State must try as possible to provide a work to
all citizens within working age and must help to conserve it once obtained.10 But
the protection of the right to work and the liberty of free competition will be
useless if there is no balance between this protection and the safeguard of the
company (asset of the employer)11 in order to guarantee a viable economic
environment.12 Article 31 of Labour Code falls under the scope of this objective.
This Article provides that
“(1) The worker shall devote all his gainful activity to the undertaking,
save as otherwise stipulated in the contract; provided that he may, unless
otherwise agreed, undertakes outside his working hours any gainful activity which
4 Pierre Cuche, Du rapport de dépendance, élément constitutif du contrat de travail, « Revue
critique » 1913.423; La définition du salarié et le critérium de la dépendance économique, « Dalloz
Hebdomadaire » 1932.103.
5 This intervention can be observed through legislative enactments and administrative decisions.
Among of these, one can mention the Law No. 92/007 of 14 August 1992 establishing Labour Code
and many others Decrees and Orders laid down in the same purpose.
6 According to the positivistic approach, if labour rights are incorporated in human rights documents,
they are human rights. See Virginia Mantouvalou, Are Labour Rights Human Rights? UCL Labour
Rights Institute On-line Working Papers- LRI WP X/2012 at 1; “European Labour Law Journal”,
7 According to Article 45 of the 1996 revised Constitution, all duly ratified treaties take priority o ver
8 Article 23 UDHR of 10 December 1948 provides everyone has the right to work and that everyone
should work in a job freely chosen; that everyone should receive equal pay for equal work; that
everyone should get decent remuneration for work performed, which should guarantee a dignified
life for herself and her family.
9 Article 15 pro vides “Every individual shall have the right to work under equitable and satisfactory
10 This can justify the harshness of dismissal procedure laid down in Articles 34 and 40 of Cameroon
Labour Code. For this purpose, Jean Marie Tchakoua, La démission et le licenciement : une
histoire de vrais faux jumeaux, « Juridis Périodique » No. 70, Avril-Mai-Juin 2007, pp. 87-95.
11 It is worthy to note that the constitution also in its p reamble protects property rights. The protection
was reinforced by some provisions of Labour code especially Articles 31, 32(k), 40, 42(2)
concerning respectively the protection of business interests, the technical lay-off, dismissal for
economic reasons and revision of working con ditions etc. In France for example, Article 7 of
Allarde De cree of 2 and 17 March 1791 establishes the principle of the liberty of work and of
12 According to Jean Jaures, the first of Human rights is the individual freedom, the property freedom,
the freedom of thought, the freedom of work.