Education International (EI) welcomes the release on 10 March of arrested Central African Republic trade union leaders. It will continue to closely monitor their treatment, the state of trade unionism and developments in the education system in the country.
The Director of the EI Africa Region (EIRAF), Dennis Sinyolo, sent a letter to the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), Felix Moloua, expressing his “deep concern about the threats to union leaders and non-affiliated teachers in Primary 1,2 and Technical Education in the Central African Republic”.
Threats violating education workers' rights
He also expressed his dismay that the CAR’s National Education Minister Aboubakar Moukadas Noure has threatened union leaders with retaliation for calling a strike, and threatened teachers not affiliated to the education unions who plan to join the current strike with sanctions: "We consider these threats to be unacceptable and in violation of the right to freedom of expression and assembly, as well as the right to strike, which are fundamental rights for all workers, including teachers."
When he learned of the arrest of three union leaders, namely Guillaume Lebrun Sesse Brassy, general secretary of the Syndicat National des Enseignants Autonomes de Centrafrique (SYNEAC, a member organisation of Education International), Innocent Kereguele, general secretary of the Syndicat des Travailleurs pour le Développement (STD), and Georges Kevin Wikon, general secretary of the Fédération de l'Enseignement Technique (FET), Sinyolo demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all three and urged the Central African Republic government to engage in negotiations with the education unions to constructively address their legitimate demands.
Call for constructive social dialogue
He added that it is essential to find a way to establish a special status for teachers in Primary Education 1, 2 and Technical Education, to revalue gross salaries and chalk allowances, to create new allowances and to improve teachers' working conditions.
"We call on the government to fully respect the rights of education workers, including their right to freedom of association and their right to strike, and to engage in constructive social dialogue with the unions to address their demands," concluded Sinyolo.
EI has already expressed its support for the leaders of the Central African Republic education unions who filed a strike notice via the union platform “Primary 1 and 2 and Technical Education Teachers’ Unions’ Dynamic” as well as supporting non-unionised teachers who joined this action following the threats made against them.