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Cablegate: Cote D'ivoire: Primary and Secondary Public

VZCZCXRO1727
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #0648 1671454
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 161454Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1472
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000648

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PGOV ECON EFIN IV
SUBJECT: COTE D'IVOIRE: PRIMARY AND SECONDARY PUBLIC
SCHOOL TEACHERS LAUNCH UNLIMITED STRIKE

REF: (A) ABIDJAN 428 (B) ABIDJAN 633 (C) ABIDJAN 549

1. (U) Summary: On June 15, primary and secondary public
school teachers began unlimited strikes to protest the lack
of government response to their demands for a housing
allowance and salary increases. The government did not
respond to a three-day strike held from June 6 to June 8 by
the Collective of the Unions of the Education and Training
Sector (Collectif des Syndicats du Secteur Education et
Formation -- CSSEF). As a result, CSSEF and the Movement of
Primary School Teachers for the Defense of their Rights
(Movement des Instituteurs pour la Defense de leurs Droits --
MIDD) have launched their strike and shut down all public
primary and secondary schools in Abidjan and an estimated 90%
of schools in the government-controlled south. MIDD and
CSSEF launched their strikes on same day, something that
leaders from both organizations disingenuously claim to be
coincidental. End Summary

2. (U) Key Players: MIDD was created in September 2005 and
applied for union status in April 2006 but has not yet been
granted this status. Its strike is therefore technically
illegal. The movement claims membership of 32,000 out of
35,000 primary public school teachers. The MIDD has launched
two other strikes: the first from March 13 to 17, and the
second from April 3 to 11 (ref A), which were suspended after
talks with the Prime Minister's office. During those
negotiations, the government rejected all of MIDD's demands.
CSSEF is a collective of primary and secondary school unions,
from which MIDD is excluded. As MIDD counts the overwhelming
majority of primary school public teachers among its members,
CSSEF is composed mostly of secondary school teachers.

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3. (U) Demands: MIDD's primary demand is for a housing
allowance equivalent to USD 200 per month. The CSSEF has
multiple demands: an upgrade in pay scale for those
secondary school teachers who have advanced degrees,
immediate payment for teachers who grade exams (currently,
teachers who grade exams must wait until the following
academic year to be paid) and, like MIDD, a housing allowance
for primary school teachers.

4. (SBU) Comment: It is highly unlikely that the
simultaneity of the two strikes is coincidental. That CSSEF
has included MIDD's principal objective of a housing
allowance to its own list of demands even though CSSEF's
members are almost all secondary school teachers, suggests a
de facto alliance between the two organizations. The
strikes, when added to the university professors' strike
resumed on June 13 (ref B), mean that the vast majority of
public school students in the government-controlled south
cannot attend classes and are at risk of having to repeat the
scholastic year. Moreover, private primary and secondary
school owners have not withdrawn their threat to shut down
their institutions unless they receive the unpaid subsidies
which are still owed to them by the government. (Ironically,
students in the New Forces-controlled north, which had
suffered hardship from a lack of accredited teachers and the
inability to take end-of-year exams since the rebellion began
in 2002, are now better off scholastically than their
counterparts in the south.) The combination of frustrated
students (and parents) with time on their hands is a recipe
for further unrest.
Hooks

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