A one-month teachers’ strike in Gabon was launched on Monday over demands for bonuses and unpaid salaries, less than a year after a wage dispute closed many schools for almost three months, a union leader said.
“Our demands have not changed for months. 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 anymore”, said Simon Ndong Edzo, one of the leaders of Conasysed, which groups the main teachers’ unions.
He said the walkout had been “massively observed” since the start of the day 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 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.