DR CONGO: Striking lecturers return to work

Lecturers at Unikin, the University of Kinshasa, have returned to work after a strike lasting nearly two months, following an agreement between the government and Apukin, the union representing the university's teaching staff, reported Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.

Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito said its aim was to improve the socio-professional conditions of lecturers and raise their status.

During the 53 days of the strike, when negotiations had often broken down, students had faced some difficult times, said Le Potentiel. Feeling they had been abandoned to their sad fate, they had adopted behaviour 'lacking in civic duty', said the paper.

Confrontations with the police had induced the employer - in this case the government - to find solutions to the lecturers' claims, said the paper. "This pressure was necessary to make the government tone down its demands and accept the agreement."

After it was signed on 10 April Muzito said the government had shown its good will. "If it hadn't been for the international financial crisis that has taken part of our tax base in 2009 and the beginning of 2010, I believe we would have been further advanced in improving the salaries of workers employed by the state and civil servants."

Le Potentiel said the government must honour its commitments if it wanted to keep its credibility. In future it must make all necessary provisions to avoid such problems, for the Unikin strike had demonstrated the weakness of its position vis-à-vis the lecturers, said the paper.