16 March 2018

Chad: Public Servants Resume Work

Government on March 14, 2018 committed to pay the backlog of withheld wages.

The atmosphere in Chad's civil service is expected to be more serene in the coming days following the deal brokered on March 14, 2018 by government with leaders of striking functionaries' unions, Radio France International reported on March 15, 2018. The industrial action - which lasted six weeks, paralysing public services - was to press home demands for improved working conditions and the payment of salaries withheld because of the strike.

According to the deal, government committed to pay the withheld wages. It also promised to impress on commercial banks to suspend monthly loan deductions from accounts of workers who suffered slashes in their salaries. In return, labour leaders pledged to resume work. Labour sources said the deal, which took eight days to negotiate, also includes the suspension of a workers' headcount and the resumption of work after functionaries receive their pay. According to the Minister of Public Service and Social Dialogue, Mahamat Moctar Ali, the end of the strike brought a sigh of relief to Chadians.

Observers acknowledge that the agreement was a good one for either side as they all had something to show at the end of the day. Earlier this month, President Idriss Déby Itno held discussions with leaders of striking public service trade unions. He pleaded with them to resume work, promising that the status quo ante will be reconsidered once the country's economic situation improved, but the parley did not end the strike at the time.

Public service workers, who joined their counterparts from the private sector, went on strike on January 29, 2018. Government's austerity measures followed the drop in oil price since 2014 and efforts to save 30 billion FCFA from the wage bill. On their part, workers' leaders proposed other measures to cut down waste like carrying out audits of workers' certificates and payrolls as well as stepping up revenue collection.

Since last January, all primary, secondary and university schools in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, have remained closed following the call of the main unions for a general strike as one of the consequences of the 2018 Appropriation Act that slashes the bonuses and allowances of public officials.

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