There is no end in sight for the teachers’ strike currently dragging on in the Central African nation of Gabon. The strike, which was called by Conasysed, the teachers’ union, to protest against unpaid salaries and bonuses and poor working conditions, has now entered its second week.
The union firmly believes that the government of Ali Bongo cares less about solving the problem.
A ‘conciliatory’ meeting that was due to take place last week was cancelled after the union found out that the budget and public accounts minister, Otounga Ossibadjouo, would not attend.
“The fact that the budget minister did not pitch up at the meeting shows that there is nothing in the state coffers to solve this problem,” union spokesperson Simon Ndong Edzo was quoted by Gabon Review as saying.
Gabon is due to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations early next year. The cost to organise the competition is said to have reached about US$800 million.
The country has seen a wave of teachers’ strikes in the past five years, and the new school year that was supposed to kick off in October seems to be now sailing into a sea of uncertainty.
Critics question the government’s motive behind ‘punishing’ teachers and pupils, while spending such a huge amount of money to host a sports tournament.
Gabon is Africa’s fifth-largest oil producer, but the majority of its people live below the poverty line.
Photo: A classroom stands empty in Libreville, Gabon, after teachers have declared an indefinite strike. credit: Steve Jordan/AFP