A conglomerate of teachers’ trade unions in Cameroon has announced a five-day strike starting on October 9 — to protest against the poor working conditions and the government’s failure to meet their demands.
The strike will affect government-owned nursery, primary, and secondary schools across the country.
A release signed by representatives of 14 teachers’ trade unions states that the strike is a continuation of the “On A Trop Supporter” (OTS) movement strike, which was launched by some teachers in the French-speaking regions last year.
The strike, which was aimed at demanding better working conditions and the payment of salary arrears by the government, resumed on September 4, when schools in the country reopened for the 2023–2024 academic year 2023.
Announcing the upcoming general strike, the teachers’ unions said “there will be a “total halt in educational activities”, including supervision work, from Monday, October 9, to Friday, October 13.
They asked parents to keep their children at home during this period.
“In addition, teachers are called upon to remain attentive to the next communications from the inter-union association relating to the actions that will be announced to them in the future, depending on the negotiations with the government.”
For weeks now, government teachers belonging to the OTS pressure group have been making demands from the government.
Among these demands are the implementation of a new salary scale for teachers, the payment of arrears in salaries and allowances, the improvement of working conditions in schools, and the recruitment of more teachers.
They claim that the government has failed to address their grievances, despite several rounds of negotiations with the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union (CATTU).
Seven cabinet ministers, including the Ministers of Secondary and Basic Education, attended a joint press conference last week to explain what the government has done so far to address the teachers’ concerns.
The ministers said the government has paid salary arrears, recruited and integrated more teachers into the civil service, and provided family and housing allowances to thousands of teachers since the OTS strike began last year.
But the OTS movement said the measures are insufficient and their needs have not been catered for.
They continued the sit-down strike after the press conference, amid alleged threats from some state officials to sanction teachers who identify with the movement.
The recent announcement of a five-day general strike signals an escalation of the teachers’ strike. The OTS strike affected just some government schools in the country, but the upcoming strike could affect all government schools in the country.
This will leave thousands of children out of school, given that government schools host the largest population of students in the country.
Cameroon already faces an education crisis in the two English-speaking regions of the North West and South West, where armed conflict has disrupted the education of over 700,000 children since 2016.
The strike will further complicate access to education in the country.