The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Corruption, Strikes, and State of Emergency

May 8, 2017

The president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, was put in power by France during their military intervention in the country. The French Army is still there, supposedly to fight terrorism but really to keep the country in the French imperialist orbit. The corruption of the previous president, Amadou Toumani Touré, overthrown in 2012, opened the way for the invasion of Jihadist groups in the north of the country. The current regime has shown itself to be rotten as well, as this article translated from the revolutionary workers’ newspaper, Le Pouvoir aux Travailleurs shows.

For the fourth time since he took power in 2013, the president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, changed the prime minister. Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga, Defense Minister in the last government, replaced Modibo Keïta at the head of the government. One of the most remarkable features of the new government is enormous numbers of ministers, 36 portfolios to satisfy these guys’ huge appetites. The Malian president has already earned his nickname: “Mister My Family First!” You almost have to believe he has enlarged his family in order to suck more wealth out of the government!

For a number of months, the regime has faced a series of strikes by public workers. The low-level government officials stopped working in January 2017. When the government refused their demands, their strike of “seven working days” became an “unlimited strike.” From there the movement spread to other sectors of public workers: the labor inspectors, the workers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, those of the different territories, the public hospitals, and finally of the teachers.

All of these, despite the diversity of their status and their type of work, demanded an improvement in their conditions of work: payment of bonuses, change in the salary scale, hiring of contract workers as regular employees, replacement of their dilapidated work materials, etc.

The new Prime Minister, bringing the habits from his old job as Defense Minister, thought that he could instill fear in the strikers by playing the strong man, but he didn’t intimidate many people. The workers in the public hospitals kept their strike going for 38 days, the longest strike in the health care sector for thirty years. After they decided to end their strike, one of the leaders of the union announced: “We have gained eight demands out of nine, and a partial agreement on the ninth. We demanded an increase in the bonus for special work, and we have gotten a 100% increase. Concerning the hiring of contract workers, the principle has been agreed to.”

The strike of the teachers is still going on because up to now they haven’t been satisfied. The students are worried about missing a year: they’ve begun to demonstrate and demanded that the government and the teachers negotiate.

For the moment, the government seems to have chosen to turn a deaf ear and to play the tough guy. It has declared a state of emergency for the whole country for nine days. Officially, this is to confront the “terrorist menace,” but no one is fooled into thinking that this will intimidate the Jihadist fanatics. In reality, the state of emergency in a big city like Bamako is always aimed at intimidating the population. In the name of a pretended public security, the government will ban any demonstration, crowd, or occupation of any public space. They are probably getting ready to order the teachers back to work under penalty of law.

In the past, the public workers, the teachers, and the students organized struggles under the bloody dictatorship of Moussa Traoré. If President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta wants to play the strong man with them, he might get a surprise just like the old dictator.