GUINEA: Unions threaten indefinite strike

7 June 2006 by IRIN

CONAKRY, 5 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - Guinea’s two most powerful trade unions have threatened to call an unlimited general strike from Thursday unless the government acts on demands issued two weeks ago.

An unprecedented general strike three months ago brought the capital Conakry to a halt and forced the government to promise 30 percent pay rises for civil servants and commit to the introduction of a minimum wage for everyone else.

But new demands by the National Confederation of Guinean Workers (CNTG) and the Union Syndicate of Guinean Workers (USTG) call for reductions in the prices of fuel and the nation’s staple food, rice.

May fuel price rises, implemented in line with International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
’s (IMF) policy to end fuel subsidies, have forced across the board price rises putting greater strain on the average Guinean’s meagre budget.

Also under IMF policy, Guinea adopted a floating exchange rate on 1 March 2005, and as a result the Guinean Franc has lost 38 percent of its value against currencies like the dollar. Informal money-changers on the streets of Conakry hawk plastic bags full of tattered Guinean Francs in exchange for a few crisp dollars or euros.

And this means that a university graduate lucky enough to work in the civil service earning around 200,000 Guinean Francs, has seen that monthly wage depreciate 40 percent to the equivalent of US $40. The currency depreciation has had a strong impact on food as Guinea, despite its varied environment, imports the majority of its rice, the country’s staple. As a result, a 50-kg sack of rice is fast becoming out of the reach of most people - at US $22.

Over the weekend queues have been forming at petrol stations as fears grow that the government will meet the demands of the fuel vendors and raise prices once again.

View online : IRIN

Source : IRIN news




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