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IRIN Africa | Great Lakes | CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC | CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Unions call on civil servants to begin nationwide strike | Democracy | News Items
Thursday 22 December 2005
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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Unions call on civil servants to begin nationwide strike

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©   Joseph Benamse/IRIN

Noel Ramadan of the USTC, the largest CAR trade union, talking to members in Bangui about the strike's first day.

BANGUI, 12 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Central African Republic's (CAR) main trade unions called on the entire civil service to go on a three-day strike beginning on Wednesday, to draw attention to their outstanding problem of salary arrears.

"The strike is a warning to the government that so far its negotiations on back pay for workers has not been satisfactory," Noel Ramadan, vice-chairman of Union syndicale des travailleurs de Centrafrique, the largest of the six unions organising the protest, told IRIN on Wednesday.

Salary arrears have been the reason for the country's army mutinies and decades of political instability, according to a May 2004 Working Paper issued by the International Monetary Fund: President Andre Kolingba lost power in 1993 when his government owed civil servants 12 months arrears; and President Ange-Felix Patasse was ousted in March 2003 when civil servants were owned 24 months pay.

Employees are now owed up to 45 months arrears but Ramadan said they were demanding just nine months arrears for the year 2005.

"A second aspect of our claim is that the government should adjust workers' salaries to account for the cost of living," he said.

"We have not been able to discuss either of these points successfully with the government," he added.

Labour Minister Jacques Bothy appealed on Tuesday to workers to go back to work and for the unions to return to the negotiating table.

"The government is making every effort to satisfy workers’ grievances," he said. "The government wants to pay the nine months; it is even one of our priorities."

Ramadan rejected his appeal saying, "The government is not taking concrete action to alleviate a situation and it is now critical.

"We are urging our members to be strong so that the government will come back and make a serious proposal."

On Wednesday, it was unclear how many civil servants were heeding the strike call. However, primary school teacher Jacques Zankifo, 30, said he would strike because his situation was desperate.

"You know it is not easy to work while you are without money and have nothing to eat," he said.


 Theme(s) Democracy
Other recent CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC reports:

Police stops rally by unpaid civil servants ,  12/Dec/05

Returning refugees risk being displaced,  6/Dec/05

Government sets up new road maintenance agency,  5/Dec/05

Minister warns media to end hostility to women,  5/Dec/05

UN appeals for US $4.7 billion in life-saving aid,  2/Dec/05

Other recent Democracy & Governance reports:

ZAMBIA: Govt extends maize importation, 22/Dec/05

BENIN: Pressure mounting but elections still in doubt, 22/Dec/05

SIERRA LEONE: With no prospects, youths are turning to crime and violence, 22/Dec/05

MOZAMBIQUE: Community radio's sustainability to be put to the test, 21/Dec/05

DRC: Supporters of constitution in strong position at polls, 21/Dec/05

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