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Cablegate: Eac Meets to Discuss Planned General Strike

O 161725Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4383
INFO ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000469

SENSITIVE

BT

FOR DS/IP/AF AND AF/W

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC PGOV AMGT IV
SUBJECT: EAC MEETS TO DISCUSS PLANNED GENERAL STRIKE

Ref(s): a. Abidjan 467 b. Abidjan 452

1. (SBU) Summary: The Ambassador convened the Emergency Action
Committee (EAC) on Wednesday, July 16, 2008, to review mission
security and work posture following the announcement of a 2-day
general strike beginning on Thursday, July 17, 2008 (ref a). The
consensus of the EAC was that mission employees should be encouraged
to remain at home on July 17 if transportation is unavailable
although the Embassy will remain open and operational with staff who
are able to make it to work. End Summary

The General Situation
---------------------

2. (U) The EAC first reviewed relevant facts. The General Union of
Workers of Cote d'Ivoire (Union Generale des Travailleurs de Cote
d'Ivoire-UGTCI), the largest Ivorian confederation of unions,
decided on Tuesday July 15, 2008, to stage a 2-day strike beginning
July 17 to call for salary increases in line with recent increases
in fuel prices (ref b). The UTGCI is a federation of more than 231
unions representing between 200,000 and 300,000 public and private
workers nationwide.

3. (U) The call for a general strike follows a 3-day public
transportation strike (July 14-16) by taxi and mini-bus drivers that
was triggered by a steep rise in fuel prices. As of noon July 16,
the threat of a general strike had prompted consumers to stock up on
gas and groceries stores in anticipation of goods unavailable on
Thursday and Friday; the result was massive queuing, especially at
gas stations, that contributed to an atmosphere of heightened
tension throughout the capitol. The UGTCI has warned that a strike
could continue into next week if the government fails to take
action. There are media reports that the presidency is in
discussions with labor unions to resolve the strike.

4. (SBU) There has been remarkably little violence associated with
the public transportation stoppage. The RSO had reports of a gas
station being attacked in the Treichville area of Abidjan. There is
widespread concern among mission employees, however, that in the
event of a general strike, they could be harassed or impeded from
trying to get to work. This concern is based on their experience
from strikes in previous years during which citizens who ignored the
call to strike were harassed.

Precautions for Embassy Employees
---------------------------------

5. (SBU) It was the consensus of the EAC that the mission operate
under a policy of liberal leave for the next 24 hours. Section
chiefs agreed to identify essential personnel and ensure that
transportation is available to them on July 17. There will be no/no
curtailment of mission services.

6. (SBU) Additionally, each office will activate its section recall
roster to ensure that there is a means to communicate with mission
employees if the strike is resolved during the evening of July 16.

7. (SBU) As these precautions do not relate to a specific, credible
or counterable security threat to Americans, the EAC deemed that
no/no warden message was required for private American community;
data currently available via the Consular Information sheet is
sufficient. Post will monitor the situation carefully and advise
Department of any significant changes.


NESBITT

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