IVORY COAST: Felix University Teachers Embarks On Strike Over Overtime

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Abidjan – The Teachers of the university Felix Houphouet Boigny of Abidjan, the main of Ivory Coast, began on Tuesday an indefinite strike to demand the payment of overtime, told AFP one of their unions. 

“We demand the payment of the additional hours made during the year 2015-2016, that the State had to pay us before June 2017. We will remain on strike until the payment”, declared the secretary-general and spokesperson of the Coordination National Association of Teachers and Researchers of Côte d’Ivoire (CNEC), Kouassi Zamina Johnson.

The slogan of a strike was closely followed on Tuesday, as no classes had taken place and the university was completely shut down, according to the union and the student union, FESCI.

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This university has 60,000 students for 2,300 professors, according to the figures given by the CNEC, which presents itself as independent and first union among professors of higher education.

Unpaid overtime represents 873 million CFA francs (1.3 million euros), according to the figures of the administration cited by Mr. Johnson.

Salaries of university professors range from 600,000 to 1.25 million CFA francs (900 to 1,900 euros) depending on seniority and grade.

Teachers work a lot of overtime because the state does not hire enough teachers, he said, regretting that the problem of payment of these hours arises “every year since 2006”.

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Asked by AFP, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has indicated that it has “not yet officially seized this strike” and have “not precisely knowledge of the demands of teachers”.

“Universities are autonomous,” said the ministry’s director of communications, Ms. Oumou Dosso. “We will make” contact “with each other” to try to solve the problem.

“Everything will be fine soon,” responded the university presidency, adding that if the question of overtime was actually the responsibility of the university, their payment was subject to the transfer of the necessary amounts by the Treasury.

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Côte d’Ivoire has been facing a big social outcry since the beginning of the year. Officials from different sectors (education, health, energy, security forces) have carried out several strikes to demand wage increases and the payment of arrears, and protest against pension reform.

The government and trade unions had signed a “five-year social truce” in August, paying several years of salary arrears for about 130,000 civil servants, or 70 per cent of the civil service.

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