9 January 2013

Cameroon: Sitrafer - Sheer Cupidity!

Last Monday morning, hundreds of angry workers of SITRAFER, a sub contractor working for the national railway company, CAMRAIL initiated a violent strike action, occupying the rails at the northern entrance into the city of Yaounde. As can be imagined, the action caused widespread suffering, not only for the numerous travellers who had sustained the difficult overnight journey from the northern regions but even for some late-comer students still on their way back to school. Several essential supplies in terms of goods and services were also severely affected.

For once, a strike action could find sympathisers from across the board except from SITRAFER understandably. The strike action has caused considerable damage not only on business for CAMRAIL, but also on its image; for all the collateral damages engendered by the strike are quickly blamed on CAMRAIL. But wrongly! In a statement made known to the public yesterday, the railway company exculpated itself from any form of misdemeanour by announcing that it had paid to SITRAFER, all contractual payments and had no outstanding debts with the sub contractor. CAMRAIL even went on to reveal that advance payments had been made to ensure that business goes on unperturbed in 2013. And yet the striking workers are asking for seven months of unpaid salaries, not to talk of other benefits and statutory allowances! Where did the CFA One Billion said to have been paid to SITRAFER go to? This is the one billion franc question, especially as the payment was made following a similar industrial action by the workers a few months preceding Christmas. CAMRAIL is justified in invoking bad faith on the art of its business partner in the same way as the public and the striking workers are in seeing elements of cupidity in the action of the SITRAFER officials who want to feed fat on money obtained from the sweat of these workers who simply want their deserved portion of what appears to be a windfall at this festive period.

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