- More than 400 workers in Chad’s oil sector have called a strike to protest the disparity between their pay and expatriates’, cutting production for three days this week.
The workers downed tools on Tuesday and have demanded an immediate pay increase of 25 percent before Friday.
“We started out asking for a 100 percent increase. But after meeting with the management of Esso in the presence of the union we reduced our demand to an increase of 25 percent, but the management still did not budge, so we decided to go on a three-day strike,” said the spokesperson for the strikers, Gotram Ngaralbaye.
In March, the Esso-Chad union wrote in a memorandum: “the discriminatory practices have intensified. The career progression plan has never been seen by the Chadian personnel, who continue to receive a salary that is not equivalent to the services rendered or the socioeconomic situation.”
The strikers have warned that they will extend the protest over the weekend if their demands are not met, after when they will “decide the next actions which will determine the renewal of the strike.”
Esso-Chad management has not made a statement on the strike, and has not started negotiating with the union since the strike began. It had previously offered a pay rise of 7.5 percent, which was rejected by the union.
Chad produces around 160,000 barrels of oil per day, relatively little compared to larger oil producing nations, but an essential booster for the poverty-stricken nation which has seen its GDP soar since production started in 2004, according to International Monetary Fund figures.
By December 2005, Chad had exported 134 million barrels of oil and earned close to US $400 million in direct revenue, the think-tank Council on Foreign Relations estimated in April.
A main goal of international agencies which provided initial funds to kickstart the oil extraction and pipeline project in 2000 was to channel the revenue into poverty-reduction programs. But earlier this year, Chad’s parliament voted to divert funds away from poverty alleviation.
In early June, hospitals and government offices in Chad were also slowed to a standstill when the country's largest labour union, the UST, called a week-long stoppage to demand a five percent wage rise it says it had been promised last year.
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