Teachers in Gabon go on strike for a month over wages and bonuses
Teachers and learning
An empty classroom in Librevill after teachers walked out
(with additional reporting by A World at School)
Teachers in Gabon have launched a one-month strike over demands for bonuses and unpaid salaries – less than a year after a wage dispute closed many schools for almost three months.
“Our demands have not changed for months,” said Simon Ndong Edzo, one of the leaders of Conasysed, which groups the main teachers’ unions.
“We had obtained written and signed commitments from the government which has not only failed to respect the deadlines but does not even speak about it any more.”
He told AFP the walkout had been “massively observed” since the start of January 4 throughout the country.
The teachers are demanding the payment of various bonuses as well as the unpaid balances of their salaries for the years 2014 and 2015.
In late 2013, many students in middle and high schools joined striking teachers’ protests in the Gabonese capital Libreville.
Striking teachers sit outside a school in the capital
At the time, teachers told of working for minimum wage and taking second jobs – as well as having overcrowded classrooms with as many as 100 students and too few text books.
In February 2015 about 20 public sector unions, led by teachers, called a strike to press for higher wages, leaving many schools virtually closed for around three months and threatening to write off the whole academic year for many students.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has led the oil-rich equatorial African nation since 2009, said at the time that he had met the main demands of the strikers.
He announced the introduction – from the summer of 2015 – of “a new remuneration system” aimed at ending the system of bonuses in favour of wage increases based on individual and collective performances.
Ndong Edzo warned the government that more strikes would follow if the unions’ latest demands are not met.
“Before switching to the new system, we must first pay the balances owed to the teachers… If nothing is done in the coming days we will go from strike to strike until the situation becomes clearer”, he said.
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