French Guiana education workers strike in solidarity with high school students, 1996

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Time Period:  
November 13,
November 14,
Location and Goals
French Guiana
Location City/State/Province: 
To end the repression against high school students who were striking to obtain the establishment of a registry and the means for providing a good education and to obtain the adoption of students' demands.

In the beginning of November 1996 and for the next several weeks, high school students boycotted classes to demand the establishment of a registry, improved study conditions, and the means for obtaining a good education. Students also protested the lack of job prospects. The Trade Union of Education Workers of Guiana (UTG) declared its support for the students.

On November 8, 1996, the student movement devolved into violence. As student representatives negotiated with the prefecture, the prefect ordered the mobile guard to disperse students and parents as they protested outside. The guard burned several student-owned vehicles, beat protesters with truncheons, and fired tear gas into crowds of protesters. Students responded with rioting and looting for several nights afterwards. Police officers used tear gas, gunshots, and grenades to cope with the student unrest.

The UTG, on November 9, called for a general strike to occur on November 13 in solidarity with the students. The general strike aimed to protest the repression against students and to pressure the government to adopt the changes demanded by the students. The strike forced the cancellation of all flights to and from French Guiana. Stores in Cayenne closed and most people stayed inside their homes.

On November 13, the general strike shut down the economy of French Guiana. More than 5,000 people participated in the demonstration that accompanied the strike on November 13. Demonstrators marched through the streets of Cayenne in protest. The general strike continued throughout the day of November 14.

The general strike was successful in pressuring the government to meet with student representatives and meet their demands. The Ministers of National Education and Overseas Department and Territories held negotiations on November 20. Negotiations lasted all day and at the end of the afternoon, the government met the demands of the students and their Guianese supporters. The government announced administrative reform and additional funding for education.

Research Notes
"Complaint against the Government of France (Guiana) Presented by the Union of Guianese Workers (UTG) Report No. 310, Case(s) No(s). 1929." ILOLEX. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. <>.;

"General Strike Called After Students Riot." Chicago Tribune, 14 Nov. 1996. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. <>.;

South America, Central America and the Caribbean, 2003. London: Europa Publications, 2002. Print.;

"General Strikes in French Guiana." 26 Nov. 1996. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. <>.;

"French Antilles and French Guiana - Working Conditions." Encyclopedia of the Nation. Web. 21 Apr. 2011. <>.;

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Kira Kern, 21/04/2011