Protests against non-payments – and PhD unemployment

Higher education and research unions at the University Alassane Ouattara, or UAO, have suspended strike action started in mid-February to protest against non-payment of salaries, bonuses and overtime. Meanwhile unemployed doctoral graduates have been demonstrating in Abidjan, demanding public service jobs.

The two unions Coordination Nationale des Enseignants du Supérieur et Enseignants-Chercheurs de Côte d’Ivoire, or CNEC-CI, and the Syndicat National de la Recherche et de l'Enseignement Supérieur, or SYNAGES, announced that they would call off their strike for a week from 25 February, reported L’Intelligent d’Abidjan.

Their grievances concerned arrears totalling FCFA980 million (US$1.6 million) in unpaid salaries, bonuses and overtime, explained Professor Tro Dého Roger of CNEC-CI and Dr Noghou Hyacinte of SYNARES section UAO-Bouaké.

Dého Roger said they were suspending the strike order following favourable negotiations with Poamé Lazare, the university’s president, who had promised their demands would be met, “in particular the outstanding amount of FCFA980 million and improvement of our conditions of work”.

Dého Roger said that out of FCFA1.13 billion due, the teachers and researchers had received only FCFA150 million.

If their grievances were not settled after a week they would call for the strike to resume with damaging consequences for 13,000 UAO students, reported L’Intelligent d’Abidjan.

Dého Roger and Hyacinte stressed that the strike was a last resort: “This situation makes us ill at ease. A teacher’s place is in the lecture halls and classrooms,” L’Intelligent d’Abidjan reported them as saying.

Meanwhile, unemployed doctoral graduates have been demonstrating and demanding that the government appoint them to public service posts, reported Notre Voie of Abidjan.

An action group of 188 unemployed graduates from 24 doctoral courses claimed the state should appoint them to fill some of the 5,000 teaching posts that were vacant – they were victims of injustice even though the state needed their skills.

A delegation of about 20 members gathered outside Saint-Paul Cathedral in the Plateau district of Abidjan, displaying signs proclaiming: “No to forced unemployment – Hire us!”, “You need 5,000 teachers, we are only 188 – hire us!” and “We demand an order giving us the right to employment in the public sector!”

Their protest was halted by police, who told the graduates that they had no authorisation for their demonstration. They marched peacefully and quietly to the town hall to obtain permission, reported Notre Voie.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.