Friday, November 2, 2007

Senegal: 72-hour strike to make government fulfil its promises

An interesting article focusing on workers' actions in Africa and in particular in Senegal by primary and secondary public school teachers. This is important because the way to fight for social change is through direct action. Action is direct when it is people fighting for their own aspirations, not relying on politicians or trade union leaders to fight for them. It calls for direct rank-and-file control over struggles against the powers-that-be. In order to do so, movements have to be based on the direct participation of the people in the struggle. Direct action must be collective because only solidarity provides the power to transform society. Even though this particular 72-hour strike was organized by a trade union group, as conditions worsen due to the systems' economic crisis, resentment towards bosses as well as union leadership grows, the working class develops a more militant stance and comes to grips with widespread solidarity. As revolutionaries, be it communist or anarchist, we must advocate the development of a workers' based movement that's centered around direct action, solidarity and direct democracy and encourage the formation of action committees in workplaces as well as networks of anti-authoritarian workers in industries or companies.


Senegal: 72-hour strike to make government fulfil its promises

Starting today, Senegalese teachers in primary and secondary public schools are on a 72-hour strike to make the government fulfil its promises on research and housing allowances.

The strike is organised by an 18-member trade union group which includes the following EI affiliates - the Syndicat National de l'Enseignement Elémentaire (SNEEL-CNTS), Syndicat Unique et Démocratique des Enseignants du Sénégal (SUDES), the Syndicat des Professeurs du Sénégal (SYPROS) and the Union Démocratique des Enseignants du Sénégal (UDEN).

The teachers are protesting against the fact that the government has not kept its promise to provide house allowance, despite signing an agreement in 2003 to that effect.

They are also demanding that the payment of research allowances be continued in the future. In 2006, the government set aside a "special budget" of 7 million FCFA (or 10.6 million euros) for the payment of research allowances ("indemnité de recherche documentaire" (IRD), in French), but it is not clear whether the continuation of this special budget will be guaranteed.

"We insist that the research allowance continues and is not a quid pro quo in exchange for longer working hours," commented Mamadou Diop, General Secretary of UDEN.

This is a third wave of industrial action taken by Senegalese teachers this year, after a series of three 72-hour strikes over a period of three weeks during April and a 72-hour strike from 30 May to 1 June.

EI urges the Senegalese government to listen to the demands of the teachers and not close the door to dialogue and negotiation. Teachers should be provided a decent wage and working conditions.

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