Congo, República del - Repressed road construction workers’ strike descends into violence (2012)

In February, Congolese workers employed in the construction of the Pointe-Noire-Brazzaville road by the China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSGEC) staged a strike in protest at their poor working conditions. Negotiations between the employer, the local authority and the union led to an agreement whereby the employer pledged to raise pay, sign employment contracts by 1 April and keep on all the striking workers. The company failed, however, to respect the agreement and on 2 April an outstanding majority of the 2000 workers downed tools. On 4 April, around a hundred of them went to the prefecture to request mediation. They were driven back by security forces, who reportedly fired in the air but nonetheless wounded two strikers. The following day, the workers unleashed their fury, ransacking equipment, assaulting two managers and taking several vehicles to the Dolisie court to try to find a judge. On 8 April, the police took advantage of payday to arrest 18 workers presumed to be strike ringleaders and rioters.

A total of 23 people were prosecuted and sentenced to jail. They expressed regret over the incidents but also over the authorities’ failure to mediate. The official trade union centres did not intervene in the case.

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