- Trade unions are expressing their concerns over what they call an "escalating violence" by security officers against their representatives all over Chad. The country has been paralysed by an unpopular general strike for over one month.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) today denounced what it called "the recent escalation in anti-union repression in Chad," where a public sector strike launched a month ago by the Inter-Union Group continues. Unionists have been under pressure since the beginning of the strike, but "the situation has worsened in recent days as security officers deploy more violent tactics," ITUC had been informed.
On Tuesday morning, the Labour Exchange in N'Djamena was stormed by security forces, who barricaded its entrance. The situation there has now been normalised but the head office of the Chadian Teachers' Union, affiliated to the Inter-Union Group, is still being occupied by police officers, who are blocking workers' access to the building.
Measures were also taken to stop the General Secretary of the UST trade union centre, Mr Djibrine Assali, from taking part in the ILO International Labour Conference. His passport was confiscated on 27 May as he was preparing to fly to Geneva, ITUC denounced.
On 7 May and 5 June, the ITUC had called on President Idriss Déby of Chad to "take urgent measures in response to the demands of the trade union organisations," yet only scant progress had been made in the negotiations over the last month.
The workers are demanding a review of public service wage scales, an increase in the minimum wage, a major increase in retirement pensions, and family allowances in line with the cost of living. The offer made by the government of the nation newly rich on oil fell far below the mark, with a wage rise limited to 15 percent and a negligible increase in family allowances.
"The anti-union repression is not confined to N'Djamena," according to ITUC. In Bongor, some 300 kilometres south of the capital, the Nomad Guard had shot at demonstrating students and workers. In Sarh and Gounou Gaya, also in the south of Chad, the police also was reported to have shot at demonstrators. "Several people have been injured," ITUC reports.
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