- Since Monday morning, the personal of 'Cameroon Airlines' (Camair) has maintained an "indefinite strike". In front of the company's headquarters in the Douala township of Bonanjo, staff members are having an animated discussion on the veranda. The reception hall of the building is filled with people, mostly employees that are responding to the strike alert sent out on 29 May.
Some placards featuring the main demands of the personnel are exhibited throughout the wall. "No to the new company - yes to our rights," "the workers of Cameroon Airlines are the most sacrificed of the global air transport sector. Give us justice," some of them read. The same environment is dominating at the technical direction of the airbase.
The employees are present, but no one is at to his working post. The Camair flight that arrived Douala from Paris at early morning hours has not been given technical assistance on the ground by the airliner's personnel. Other airplanes, especially those by 'Virgin Airkines', have been left equally abandoned by the strikers. In the capital, Yaoundé, a flight by 'Air France' has already been suspended due to the strike, according to a worker at Cameroon Airports (ADC).
The strike has been building up since the Yaoundé working session on Friday last week between the Cameroonian Ministry of Economy and Finance and the representatives of Camair staff, following an earlier strike warning issued by the workers. At the end of the meeting, Polycarpe Abah Abah of the Ministry published a statement where he announced "the commitment" of the workers' representatives "to inform their colleagues of the joyful conclusion of the negotiations with government to call off the manifestations programmed for Monday."
But the announcement of the Ministry did not seem to have desired effect at Camair, because the announced strike was carried out in any way. In the opinion of the employees united in Bonanjo, "the Minister limited himself to speak about payments of wages for the three last months that the company owes us, to be made this week. The rest of our demands, especially our future after the privatisation, was not treated."
A poster put up at the entrance of the building that houses Camair's administrative staff sheds light on this matter: "They must clarify our rights and our future," the paper indicates.
The employees gathering in the corridors of the company's headquarters indeed ask themselves what will happen to them when Camair ceases to function and a new owner takes over the state-owned Cameroonian airliner. "Thirty days before the privatisation of Camair, none of our numerous pending issues have been treated," a poster put up in Bonanjo says.
The strikers are in particular worried about how the new company will be managed under the new provisional administrator Paul Ngamo Hamani and a team that is to liquidate Camair. "What is our destiny from now on, and who shall we direct to us?" a frustrated worker asks.
On 24 May this year, Camair personnel again noted their concerns that had previously been sent to the Technical Commission of Privatization and Liquidation of public and parastatal companies, sending a letter to the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya.
Technical staff of the company demands the re-opening of the maintenance centre of Boeing aircrafts in Douala. The workers further demand that the new Camari manager guarantees the maintenance of the same destination network that the airliner presently operates. There is also reference to a protocol signed in Yaoundé on 16 August 2005, mentioning overtime payments, union rights and health insurance.
Several representative of the workers said that, at the moment, they consider "there is nothing new to say about the strike."
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