Guinea unions reach deal

Guinea's most powerful unions have reached a deal with the government to end an eight-day-old general strike which had triggered widespread rioting and brought the West African country to a standstill.

    Shops and government offices in Conakry remained shut

    Boubacar Biro Barry, negotiator for the CNTG union federation, said on Friday that "everything is sorted out. We are about to sign a agreement to bring the strike to an end".
      
    Shops and government offices in the coastal capital Conakry had remained shuttered on Friday after student rioting across the mineral-rich former French colony this week in which several people were killed.

    Security authorities have put the number of people killed at 11 and announced they had opened a probe into the killings.

    Rights organisations have given a toll of 21 protesters shot  dead on Monday by security forces trying to put down the student riots over cancellation of exams due to a teachers' strike.

    An investigation has been opened to determine the causes of deaths, police said in what is the first official communication  since the bloody clashes during Guinea's general strike called by unions over low wages and soaring cost of living.

    Negotiations

    Guinea's two most powerful unions and the government of Lansana Conte, the ailing president, negotiated late into the night on Thursday to settle the dispute over the high price of basic goods.

    President Conte's government
    negotiated with the unions 

    The government has offered concessions on public sector wages, travel and housing payments, as well as the price of rice, the staple food for the majority of Guineans who survive on less than $1 a day.

    Production of bauxite from Guinea, the world's largest exporter, has not been affected by the strike as unions agreed not to take action in the strategically important sector.

    The Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee (CBG), controlled by Alcoa and Alcan, exports 12 million tonnes of bauxite a year.

    Bauxite is the chief ore of aluminium.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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