At least five people have been killed in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, in protests sparked by a teachers’ strike, according to the government, reviving labour tensions in a country where previous strikes have led to dozens of deaths.
Guinea’s main teachers’ unions launched the strike on February 1 to protest at the government’s decision to dismiss or cut the salaries of many junior teachers after the latest civil service exams.
Many of their pupils have taken to the streets in recent days to support them.
Beginning early on Monday morning, unidentified assailants attacked a police station and demonstrators clashed with security forces in several districts of Conakry, witnesses told the Reuters news agency.
“By midday, these demonstrations had unfortunately caused the deaths of at least five people,” the government said in a statement, calling the protest “illegal and forbidden”.
The statement added that 30 people had been injured, including members of the security forces, and 12 arrested.
Demand for higher salaries
The two largest teacher trade unions have been on strike for weeks, demanding higher salaries and the resumption of work by contracted teachers, who are not full-time. The government, they say, is not meeting their demands.
The unions said their strike will continue until a pay rise of between 7.5 to 10.3 percent is met.
Later on Monday, the government said a deal had been struck to end the teachers’ strike but that could not be immediately confirmed.
General strikes about 10 years ago caused major disruptions in Guinea, which has around a third of the world’s reserves of bauxite, used to make aluminium.
The subsequent crackdown led by security forces led to the deaths of 135 people.