By Tata Mbunwe
More problems continue to stir the Biya regime in the face. While it has been unable to get primary and secondary school teachers on strike for the 5th week now return to the classrooms, other sectors are bring pressure to bear.
It is now the National Union of Higher Education Teachers, SYNES, has announced a nationwide strike beginning June 2, 2022. The industrial action, SYNES Secretary General Prof Mtopi Fotso Blaise said in a release March 18, is over years of unpaid benefits.
According the SYNES official, government has until May 31 to address the concerns of watch lecturers in all state universities grounded SYNES says the Minister of Higher Education is expected “to reassure teachers in higher education by having all teachers pay the premium for modernisation research in full and simultaneously for the first quarter of 2022 and by communicating a reasonable time table for the clearance of academic debt of universities.”
This academic debt, SYNES adds, “is an accumulation of statutory services that have remained unpaid for years and consist in particular of additional hours, supervision of dissertations and theses, participation in defence juries dissertations and theses and vacations”.
In the strike notice, the lecturers also frowned at the fact that higher education teachers were not represented during Ministerial discussions on March 10 to resolve the ongoing strike by secondary school teachers.
“Faced with this situation, which is akin to contempt on the part of the government for the sufficiently responsible and conciliatory posture of higher education teachers, the Secretary General of the National Union of Higher Education Teachers and the SYNES Coordinators of State Universities, met by videoconference on March 17, 2021.”
Before issuing the ultimatum, SYNES says it has written two previous letters – on February 28 and March 7 this year reminding the government of the need to fulfill their demands. But until March 18, these, it said, have fallen on deaf ears.
The lecturers have stated that they will only dialogue or negotiate with the government, if the Minister of Higher Education, Prof Jaques Fame Ndongo, pays them the first installment of their research bonus for 2022.
They have also demanded that Minster Fame Ndongo should issue a “reasonable timetable” for the clearance of their debts.
The higher education teachers are threatening to strike amid a month-long sit-down strike being staged by secondary education teachers in parts of the French-speaking regions.
Despite efforts by the government, including a FCFA 2.7 billion Presidential grant to settle them, the secondary school teachers have not been pacified.
In a release on March 19, the Enough is Enough, EIE, Movement stated that it coordinates the strike, termed government efforts “cosmetic solutions”.