Teacher unions in Cameroon have unitarily called on primary and secondary teachers to strike in December to force the government to respect commitments on improved teachers’ working and living conditions and fixed status.
The decision to call a strike of Cameroon’s teachers from 5-7 December has been taken by Education International (EI)’s national affiliates, the Fédération des Syndicats de l'Enseignement et de la Recherche (FESER), the Fédération Camerounaise des Syndicats de l'Education (FECASE) and the Syndicat des Travailleurs des Etablissements Scolaires Privés du Cameroun (SYNTESPRIC), together with two other education unions. They are urging the government to immediately implement the decisions of a committee set up by the Prime Minister in 2012 to solve all issues pertaining to teachers:
* Recognition of physical education and physical education teachers as teachers benefitting from teachers’ status
* Rescheduling of teachers’ salary indexes, so that the indexes stretched over more years, up until they get close to the salary indexes of higher education teachers
* Signing of a collective agreement for private education teachers, so that they are not dependent on the decision of education institutions’ leading committees
* Integration of contract primary and secondary teachers into the civil servants’ scheme. The unions have highlighted that around 90 percent of primary school teachers are employed under contract
* Re-evaluation of/and increase in documentation and research grants bonuses
“Since 2015, nothing has been done. While the outcomes of the previous committee have not yet been implemented, recently, the Prime Minister created yet another committee to deal exclusively with the issues faced by Anglophone teacher trade unions,” said FECASE General Secretary Thobie Mbassi.
The trade unions insist that the government must convene, without delay, the National Forum on Education, whose establishment was promised in 2012. This forum’s key objective is to resolve issues faced by teachers in both the Francophone and Anglophone systems.
Mbassi said the government’s approach to solving teachers’ problems was to threaten to divide the nation’s teachers.
“The government tries to divide teachers, to fix problems in a limited way, as it is only meeting with Anglophone trade unions. This is always the worse solution, because when Anglophone teachers think issues are solved, they are not [solved] for all Francophone colleagues,” he explained.
The strike has already started in the Cameroon’s Anglophone education system, he said, highlighting that Anglophone education unions themselves decided, on this occasion, not to answer the government’s call for separate dialogue.
The strike follows a warning by the unions on 17 November that strike action was likely if their demands for government implementation of previously agreed decisions were not met. They had set a deadline of 25 November for the government to examine teachers’ demands.
“This is a ‘warning’ strike, and if our demands remain unanswered, if no solution is found to teachers’ issues, we will escalate our actions,” stressed Mbassi, adding that education unions are envisioning additional large-scale actions for early 2017 as required.