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Cape Verde Telecom employees strike for higher wages, 2010
The Union of Transport, Telecommunications, Hospitality and Tourism (SITTHUR) is a union in Cape Verde that is comprised of a range of employees involved in transportation, telecommunications, service work, and tourism. In 2010, the administration of Cabo Verde Telecom (CV Telecom) proposed a wage increase of 1.75%, while the employees wanted a wage increase of 4% (one source says Cabo Verde Telecom was only offering a 1% wage increase).
Starting in May 2010, SITTHUR representatives and the CV Telecom administration began engaging in talks over wage increases. In late August, however, SITTHUR announced that CV Telecom employees would go on strike in demand of a 4% wage raise. The administration of Cabo Verde Telecom said they were surprised by the “radical stance” that SITTHUR took. The company said they were, however, open to dialogue in “an environment of tranquility.”
On August 31, 2010, union representatives and Cabo Verde Telecom representatives sat down in a meeting mediated by the Department of Labor to attempt to work out a wage increase that would be satisfactory for both sides. However, the union representatives refused to cancel the strike unless the company agreed to the wage increase. The company refused, so SITTHUR decided to go ahead with the strike. Both employees and company administration assured Cabo Verde Telecom customers that the strike would not affect communications in Cape Verde, both because the equipment functioned autonomously, and because emergency technicians would be there to repair any problems that could arise.
SITTHUR went through with the strike on the morning of September 2, 2010. Employees of Cabo Verde Telecom staged a walk out and remained on strike through September 3, demanding a 4% wage increase. SITTHUR reported that over 90% of Cabo Verde Telecom employees adhered to the strike. The only island where employees did not strike was Brava. SITTHUR also made sure that technicians remained at the switchboard to be sure that equipment was maintained, and other employees remained to be sure that mobile maritime communications were still functional. One union representative was reported to have said, “This is a great day of struggle.”
It seems that negotiations then continued after the strike (though this is unclear), and SITTHUR lowered its demand to a 3.9% wage increase, but refused to go lower than that. On September 10, CV Telecom offered employees a 2.5% wage increase retroactive for the year of 2010, but at the same time suspended wage negotiations with the employees. CV Telecom administration said that the “intransigence” of the union representatives made further negotiation impossible.
Still, SITTHUR planned to reinstate negotiations on October 13. Beforehand, they sent out a press release saying that whatever happened with negotiations, they would have a meeting with the General Assembly of Workers (unclear what this body is) on October 15 to “analyze the overall performance of the whole process and take decisions where indicated.”
CV Telecom employees organized another strike from November 2-3. It appears that the goal of the strike was the same as the previous one, though one source says that the goal was a “fair wage readjustment” that would satisfy the employees. Union representative Tomás Aquino reported that there was 100% strike participation in the northern islands, aside from term-contract workers.
Still, the company would not grant the workers their demand of a 3.9% wage increase.
On February 15, 2011, SITTHUR and the company employees had a meeting to review the progress of CV Telecom’s labor policies since the November strike. SITTHUR claimed that CV Telecom disciplined four employees for no justified reason, and said it was retaliation for the strikes. So, employees decided to hold a protest of administration retaliation on February 18 in front of the company’s headquarters in the city of Praia.
The result of this protest is unclear, but the earlier strikes for a wage increase did not result in the increase that the workers demanded.