Strikes, salary arrears, price hikes, bribes freeze Guinea Bissau

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The National Union of Guinea-Bissauan Workers (UNTG) has declared a three-day strike; nurses, doctors and civil servants, have been striking over salary sums unpaid, leaving basic services running at bare minimum capacity since Tuesday this week.

According to Zubaida Rasul, the senior political affairs officer at the UN Peace building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS), civil servants have not been paid in three months. The government paid one month of back-pay at the end of September but three months’ salary is owed, while security forces were not paid at all in September.

Reports claim that other than salary problems, workers in the country are demanding transportation bonuses to keep up with the increased cost of living. Medical staffs are demanding a government-promised bonus for their efforts to tackle a cholera epidemic that has ravaged the country.

95 percent of public sector workers across the country have participated in the strikes including taxi and truck drivers who are demanding that transport police officers stop the custom of stopping vehicles on major roads to take bribes.

Reacting to the strike, the Guinea Bissau Prime Minister Carlos Correia stated in a press release that workers have the obligation to ensure minimum services required under the law, adding that the strikers’ salaries will however be docked for the duration of the strike.

Rui Alfonso Sami, the director of rural growth at the Ministry of Agriculture has stated that civil servants in several ministries, including fisheries, agriculture and health, regularly face salary arrears in Guinea Bissau.

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