13 March 2018

Gabon: Public, Private Sector Workers On Indefinite Strike

The action that began on March 12, 2018 is to press home demands for improvements in working conditions.

The coming days and weeks promise to be tense in Gabon if the government does not act fast to end the general strike that began on March 12, 2018. Called by the "Confédération syndicale Dynamique unitaire," the indefinite industrial action is intended to press home demands for improvements in working conditions.

These include reinstatement of suspended bonuses and an appeal to Parliament to approve the payment of certain allowances. Other demands are merit-based promotions, respect of workers' freedoms and their right to belong to trade unions, renegotiation of retirement conditions and the payment of backlog of some allowances.

The strike notification was reportedly submitted to Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet on March 1, 2018, but labour unions say they have since not received any reply. The umbrella labour union, "Confédération syndicale Dynamique unitaire," argues that government treated their demands with complacency - reason why they embarked on indefinite strike. Of recent, Gabon has seen a number of workers' strikes, due mainly to the country's dwindling finances and the drop in oil prices.

In January 2017, Royal Dutch Shell workers in the country went on a prolonged strike over fears of job insecurity. Shell was in talks to sell its Gabon assets estimated at 700 million US dollars (373.2 billion FCFA), leaving workers worried about layoffs, the labour union explained at the time.

The National Union of Petroleum Employees, ONEP, had earlier demanded that all Shell Gabon employees be transferred to whichever company takes over its assets, and that no redundancies be made for a period of five years.

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