News / Africa

In Cameroon, Long Retrenched Workers Await Pay

Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Finance of Cameroon, speaks during news briefing by African Finance Ministers at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Washington, April 20, 2013.
Alamine Ousmane Mey, Minister of Finance of Cameroon, speaks during news briefing by African Finance Ministers at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Washington, April 20, 2013.
— On the streets of the capital, insults rain down on riot-police who block long-retrenched workers from entering banks to collect money owed to them decades after their jobs were cut.
 
Most have been awaiting promised severance packages since the economic crisis of the late 1980s and early 1990s that led government officials to liquidate or privatize some 50 public enterprises as part of a structural adjustment program. As a result, more than 20,000 people lost their jobs, and many have spent years protesting in front of their former workplaces to no avail.
 
But now it appears the decision to publicize their plight has finally elicited a response. Cameroon Finance Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey vowed to make available about $4 million to settle the longstanding claims over the next two months — seemingly good news that, for many, will be believed only when it happens.
 
"I've been sleeping out in the open and have nothing except about $2," says 56-year- old Gael Mbozo, just one of 15 tired-looking women who have been sleeping in a courtyard in front of a bank, just a handful of the protesters who have traveled long distances to push their demands ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections on September 30.
 
Wondering how long she can continue to live on such meager amount, her frustration resonates with scores of other retrenched workers who have been protesting in front of government ministries and blocking traffic in and around the city.
 
Tsafack Anatol, 60, for example, says he heard about the settlement offer on CRTV, the state broadcaster that issued Mey's invitation to those with grievances to come to Yaounde to collect. Anatol travelled 230 miles from his home town in Foumban but says he is not sure what is supposed to happen next.
 
“They called us to come and take money," he said. "We came and nothing has been done. So for almost one week people have been standing here and nothing has been done. We do not know why they have been keeping us here until today. We don’t know where to stay, we know nothing.”
 
“I borrowed money to pay transport and come here. If they don’t pay me, how will I go back?" asks 60-year-old Essumbe Victor of southwest Cameroon. "I cannot go back.”
 
In a telephone interview with VOA, the finance minister confirmed that the government has negotiated with workers to accept the severance package, and that he did invite them to Yaounde, but that many do not understand the process required to receive the pay-out.
 
"They have to be paid in two different installments," Mey said. "The first part of the payment is going on now and the second part of the payment will be done in the months ahead to finally settle their claims.
 
He also promised that expenses related to the retrenched workers stay in Yaounde will also be covered.
 
"The government will pay for their transportation to and from Yaounde and their stay in Yaounde," he said.
 
But some of the workers worry that this is only a pre-election promise made to calm the protests and that they will still be waiting for their severance package long after votes are cast.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid