Cablegate: Civil Servants Remain at Work Despite Continuing

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A



1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified. Not for internet

2. (U) Summary. Despite the failure of negotiations between
the GDRC and various unions earlier this year, most civil
servants have returned to work. Isolated strikes have since
occured in several public enterprises and services, but
general striking has not resumed. Civil servants remain
frustrated, but are disorganized and have few alternatives
but to continue working for meager salaries that often go
unpaid. Inter-union tensions are running high, with various
groups attempting instigate another general strike. The GDRC
is attempting to co-opt individual unions in order to prevent
this. End Summary.

3. (U) In late June and early July, Kinshasa saw renewed
striking by several public enterprises and services including
ONATRA (transportation), RVF (river commerce), RVM (maritime
trade), OFIDA (customs), and OCPT (postal and
telecommunications). (Note. A civil service general strike
in February 2004 was suspended pending further negotiations
with the GDRC. However, the GDRC refuses to budge past FC
10,000 total salary/month for the lowest paid worker. See
refs A and B. End Note.) These strikes were intended to
protest both salary arrears and the continuing lack of
resolution to the GDRC-civil service salary debate. Again,
civil servants quickly returned to work, this time after the
GDRC agreed to distribute a portion of their unpaid wages
(ref C). (Note. To date, few of these promised
disbursements have been made. End Note.)

4. (SBU) In late July, local press reported that air traffic
controllers (ATCs) of Regie des Voies Aerienne (RVA) and
Aviation Civile were preparing to strike. Econoffs
interviewed ATCs and RVA management and determined that
strike rumors were unfounded and could be attributed either
to attempts by various unions to instigate another general
strike or internal political wrangling amongst RVA leadership
(ref C).

5. (SBU) RVA and Aviation Civile are critical government
enterprises controlling overflight and landing rights and
fees. They not only provide revenue to the GDRC, but control
the primary means for moving people and commercial goods
within the country. Recognizing these facts, the GDRC moved
swiftly to end a strike by ATCs at the N'Djili airport in
late February (ref B). (Comment. In attempting to instigate
a second ATC strike, union heads were likely seeking to
capitalize on RVA and Aviation Civile's influence in the GDRC
to gain concessions for all civil servants. However, as the
GDRC pays RVA and Aviation Civile employees decent salaries
on a relatively timely basis, ATCs had little incentive to
risk their jobs by striking. End Comment.)

6. (SBU) Between 27 July and 3 August, Econoffs met with
representatives of various unions and and public enterprises
including SLC (Syndicat Libre du Congo), CONAMAFET
(Confederation Nationale des Mandataires et Agents de
l'Etat), FOSYFET (Force Syndicale des Agents et
Fonctionnaires de l'Etat), SYNAFET (Syndicat National des
Agents et Fonctionnaires de l'Etat et Para-Etatiques), and
RVF. Most of the representatives offered little substantive
information regarding their intentions or organizational
capacities, but preferred instead to discuss their sentiments
towards the GDRC. These ranged from mildly distrustful to
incensed, with Mr. Emery Tshipamba of SYNAFET calling the
GDRC's most recent salary offer "a crime akin to social

7. (SBU) Mr. Mutumoyi of SLC and Mr. Mayala of CONAMAFET
mentioned repeatedly that the February general strike had not
ended, but was merely "suspended" and could be resumed at any
time. Similar veiled threats of further striking were a
common theme, but no specific dates or groups were mentioned.

8. (SBU) Comment. Labor unrest will likely continue, but not
on the scale seen in February 2004. Numerous civil service
unions compete against one another for membership and
government attention. This serves to dilute their influence
in labor negotiations with the GDRC. Attempts to organize
another general strike have been easily stymied by the GDRC,
which selectively disburses salary arrears (as in the case of
the July strikes) or negotiates unilaterally with one or
another union (as with the ATCs) to divide and conquer the
civil service labor front. End Comment.

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