UNCLAS CONAKRY 000608
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV ASEC GV
SUBJECT: PUBLIC SCHOOLS TO OPEN ON MONDAY, TEACHERS PLAN TO
GO TO WORK
REF: CONAKRY 0325
Â¶1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Guinea,s 2008/2009 public school year is
set to begin on Monday, October 13. The last session ended
with a nationwide teacher strike in June during the national
exam period (reftel), which was called off a week later when
the GoG and the teachers negotiated an agreement. However,
the GoG has failed to implement most of the provisions of the
agreement, which were supposed to have been completed before
the start of the new school year. A union leader told Poloff
that the teachers plan to return to work on Monday as
scheduled, but will likely be discussing their next course of
action once they get settled in. END SUMMARY.
Â¶2. (SBU) Poloff met with Elhadj Sy Savane, secretary general
of Guinea,s teacher,s union, on October 16 to discuss GoG
progress toward fulfilling promises made in June after a
week-long labor strike (reftel). According to Savane, the
GoG has successfully addressed two of the issues, but for the
most part, the GoG has not upheld its end of the bargain.
Â¶3. (SBU) Pursuant to the negotiated agreement, the GoG
implemented a salary increase in June that had been approved
months earlier. In September, the GoG began paying one of
several agreed upon miscellaneous allowances for course
preparation, insurance, licensing fees, etc. In addition,
the GoG and the teachers, union established an oversight
committee to oversee the implementation of the agreement.
The three education ministers, the finance minister, and the
minister of public administration sit on the committee.
Savane said that the committee had met several times and
plans to do so again next week.
Â¶4. (SBU) However, the bulk of the union,s demands remain
unresolved. These demands include replacement of senior
education officials, payment of salary arrears, hiring and
appointment of new teachers, payment of the remaining
allowances, conversion of contractors to permanent status,
doubling of salaries, and payment of a government subsidy to
Â¶5. (SBU) When asked about the GoG,s political will to
address union complaints, Savane said that GoG has always
been very good at making promises, but slow to act. He said
that Prime Minister Souare seems sincere in his commitment,
but the implementation falls apart at the technical level.
Offering an example, Savane said that the recently fired
minister of finance was blocking many of the actions because
of his refusal to release the needed funds. &Sometimes we
have to wait for the prime minister to intervene in order to
move forward,8 he said.
Â¶6. (SBU) Despite the GoG,s failure to deliver on its
promises, Savane said that the teachers plan to report to
work on Monday as scheduled. He did not discount the
possibility of an eventual continuation of their labor
strike, but said that everyone needs to come back to work so
that they can have an opportunity to communicate and discuss
the issues. &Everyone has been out on vacation and
difficult to reach; we have to wait for everyone to come back
together,8 he said.
Â¶7. (SBU) Poloff noted that the GoG had postponed the start
day from October 15 to October 20 for primary and secondary
schools, and November 3 for universities, and asked if the
delay had anything to do with the union,s issues. According
to Savane, the GoG was forced to delay the start date because
of technical problems. He said that some of the teachers had
not been paid, materials had not been distributed, and some
of the classrooms had not been adequately prepared, for
example. Savane said he thought classes would start on
Monday as currently scheduled.
Â¶8. (SBU) In past meetings, Savane has been adamantly in favor
of strike activity in order to force government action, even
when a labor strike could have potentially unraveled the
social situation as was the case in the aftermath of the
military mutiny earlier this year. Savane frequently refers
to the strikes of 2006 and 2007, and has repeatedly indicated
that he believes further social unrest is just around the
corner. Once the teachers get settled in and back to work,
the unresolved union issues are likely to be a high priority
topic for discussion amongst themselves. END COMMENT.