The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Ivory Coast:
Bullets Against Strikers

Mar 28, 2016

The following appeared in the February 14th issue of Le Pouvoir aux Travailleurs (Power to the Workers), the paper of the African Union of Internationalist Communist Workers. It tells about a strike that occurred in January in the Sucaf-CI sugar mill where two workers were killed by the police. This company is a subsidiary of Somdiaa, one of the biggest French agribusiness companies in Africa. It has subsidiaries in Chad, Cameroun, Congo, Central Africa, Gabon, Togo and the island of Réunion. The French capitalists make profit in Africa with the sweat and also the blood of the workers of these countries, assured that the local authorities will go right along with them.

The Sucaf-CI of Ferké1 and Ferké2, a sugar company located in the north of Ivory Coast, went on strike on January 8th. They are fighting against the casualization of their jobs due to the fact that the boss has turned over certain sectors to contractors, giving rise to deep wage cuts.

According to a worker, “a seasonal driver who got 170,000 CFA francs (equal to $287 a month) now has a wage of 90,000 F as a contractor. A worker paid 85,000 F before now has 60,000 F.” At the same time, they are protesting against terrible working conditions and unpaid overtime work. In fact, many of them work 12 hour days and are only paid for eight hours. They don’t have medical insurance, even in the event of accidents on the jobs.

At the end of the last sugar harvest, the boss congratulated the workers for work well done. That meant that the bosses pocketed more. The workers expected an increase in their pay. But they were really surprised when they saw the boss arrange to cut pay with the aim of increasing still more the stockholders’ profits.

And when the workers demanded their due, the boss, rather than seek to resolve the problem, arranged with the authorities in their service to have the cops come and kill the workers.

The forces of order didn’t hesitate to use their weapons. They shot real bullets, killing two and wounding several. A dozen workers were arrested and thrown in prison.

This example shows clearly to what extent the authorities are on the side of the bosses.