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


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.

Time period

November 13, 1996 to November 14, 1996


French Guiana

Location City/State/Province

Jump to case narrative


Trade Union of Education Workers of Guiana (UTG)


Not known

External allies

Not known

Involvement of social elites

Not known


French Guianese government

Nonviolent responses of opponent

Not known

Campaigner violence

Not known

Repressive Violence

Police beat students with truncheons, used tear gas, fired guns, and threw grenades.


Economic Justice
Human Rights



Group characterization

Education workers
Other Guianese workers

Additional notes on joining/exiting order

No known joining order

Segment Length

8 hours

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

6 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


2 out of 3 points

Total points

9 out of 10 points

Notes on outcomes

On November 20, Ministers of National Education and Overseas Department and Territories met and conceded to the demands to students which were backed by the Guianese population.

Database Narrative

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.


"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