Cameroonian teachers affiliated with the "On a trop supporté" (OTS) – Meaning ‘we have endured too much’ – movement and other unions under the Corec umbrella have suspended their strike following President Paul Biya's New Year's Eve address, according to a Corec press release issued Jan. 6.
While the release calls it a "truce," Corec clarifies it's a one-month break, hinting at potential resumption if demands aren't addressed. Biya's speech, promising dialogue and "firm measures" to normalize school functioning, appears to have influenced the decision.
"He made a threat, yes, but also offered dialogue," said Xavier Vemba, OTS spokesperson. Biya's call for engagement with recognized unions provided an opening for strikers, Vemba added.
Demands Remain Pressing
Despite the suspension, the teachers' three key demands still stand. They are namely payment of outstanding debts, the automation of career procedures, and a special status for teachers. During his New Year address, President Biya acknowledged the teacher-owed debt, mentioning an XAF102 billion allocation in the 2024 budget, following 72 billion spent in 2023. As far as automation is concerned, the strikers demand it to improve efficiency in teacher career progression. Meanwhile, a draft law outlining the special status, spearheaded by movements like OTS, was submitted to the Prime Minister and President in May 2022.
Government Commitment Questioned
While the Corec release frames the suspension as facilitating preparation for the upcoming National Education Forum (FNE), a forum billed as the "états généraux" of the education sector, Vemba emphasizes that concrete steps towards fulfilling teacher demands are crucial.
The government plans to meet teachers during the FNE, but details and timelines remain unclear. Corec expresses concern that the suspension could be seen as merely appeasing Biya without substantive progress, potentially leading to renewed strike action.
Michel Ange Nga