Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gabonese unions call off general strike

LIBREVILLE — Trade unions in Gabon on Friday called off a planned general strike after the government met their demands for price cuts in electricity, gas and water, union spokesman Fridolin Mve Messa said.

"We have signed an agreement with the government. The strike has been cancelled. We won satisfaction on the cuts we wanted," Mve Messa, who spoke for 12 of the 14 union bodies, told AFP.

"The price of gas is going to go down from 6,000 CFA francs (9.14 euros a canister) to 5,450 CFA francs (8.31 euros / 10.57 dollars)", Mve Messa said. The unions had called for a cut to 5,300 CFA francs (8.07 euros) and the government had proposed 5,600 (8.53 euros).

The unions in the oil-rich central African country also obtained a cut in value-added tax of five percent for cement bags and for communal water and electricity meters, and 10 percent for individual meters.

The price of the kilowatt hour of electricity will be reduced by 2.5 percent and that of the cubic meter of water by 15 percent.

"We're greatly satisfied," Mve Messa said. "We can make savings. Things will change for people: the price of electricity, of water. On a canister of gas, we will save 550 CFA francs (0.83 euros). That's enough for half a taxi ride or for buying bread for your children."

The unions in Gabon, where many of the population of some 1.5 million live in poverty, initially threatened on May 1 to call a strike, but the stoppage was put off after the government cut some prices and promised to cut others.

The latest strike warning was issued on August 20.

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