The decision last Saturday February 4, 2017 by some teachers’ trade unions to call off a two month long protests against perceived economic marginalization and the imposition of French legal and education systems in the English-speaking regions of the country has been met with stiff resistance by the populations of the regions (North West and South West Regions.)
Almost all schools and business in the North West and South West regions remained closed on Monday February 6. A couple of schools such as GBHS Molyko, Buea had a few students of their francophone sections present on campus.
The interim consortium leaders who had called on citizens to disregards the teachers’ decision, have continued to preach peaceful civic disobedience and condemn violence. However, some irate youths burnt down buildings in GTHS Barombi in the South West region and GBHS Nitop in the North West on February 6. Reports say the act was prompted by the school authorities’ moves to disrespect the Ghost towns observed in the regions.
Signatories justify reasons for breaking the strike
The pronouncement came after the All Anglophone Teachers Trade Unions decided to suspend their strike action and called on teachers, pupils and students to resume classes from Monday, February 6, 2017. They announced the suspension during a meeting at the North West Governor’s Office.
According to a declaration issued at the end of the meeting, the trade unionists had several consultations with their bureau members and acknowledged that the trade union leaders who called the strike have an obligation at some point to ask teachers to go back to school no matter what the community feels in keeping with the rights and privileges and duties and obligations of both employers and employees. They observed that the work of the Inter-ministerial Ad Hoc Committee ended up proposing solutions to 19 core issues plus six others in the form of an appeal.
In the presence of Adolphe Lele L’Afrique, Governor of the North West, the declaration was read out by Stephen Afu, President of the Presbyterian Education Authority Teachers Trade Union, PEATTU,.
“The All Anglophone Teachers Trade Unions in unanimity elects this 4th of February 2017 to suspend the strike which they initiated on November 21, 2016 to address educational grievances,” reads part of the declaration. As a consequence of this decision, they call for the resumption of effective classes on Monday the February 6, 2017 from 7:30 in the morning prompt. Valentine Semma, representative of the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union, CATTU, said the Ad Hoc Committee has convened an evaluation meeting to hold from February 15 to 20.
While thanking all stakeholders for the enormous sacrifices made, the union leaders assure them in all earnestness that every effort will be deployed to see to it that all classroom actors burn the midnight candle and work with dedication in order that hapless children catch up the lost time and get adequate preparation for all their examinations. They implored teachers to make sure that these lofty aspirations are met while also imploring students to be responsible, focused, hardworking, disciplined and God-fearing to enhance the attainment of these dreams so dear to parents and the community at large.
The All Anglophone Teachers Trade Union in their declaration expressed indignation at the heavy military presence in the two Anglophone Regions which they say has created an environment of insecurity, suspicion, uncertainty, violence, defiance and crime. They also mentioned the arrest and intimidation said to be orchestrated by government which they say has gone a very long way to complicate efforts aimed at seeking a way forward.
The All Anglophone Teachers Trade Union also thanked those who made sacrifices, expressed condolences to those who lost people during the strike and assert that they reserve the right to lift the suspension of the strike anytime they feel convinced that government is not fulfilling nor honouring the pledges made in the Ad Hoc resolutions and recommendations.
Afu told reporters that they haven’t been manipulated but that the burden became so overbearing on the private sector. He reiterated that they are going to monitor government action and can call for a resumption of the strike if government is not responsible in its action. As for the leaders in prison, he said he does not know their fate but said his wish is that those in hiding can come out and continue the fight.
Outlawed Consortium declares release ending teachers’ strike null and void
In a quick reaction to the decision of the All Anglophone Teachers Trade Unions calling off the strike, the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium now led by Tapang Ivo and Mark Bara of the diaspora, described it as null and void.
“Fellow West Cameroonians, we have all heard on Cameroon State broadcaster, CRTV that some leaders of teachers’ unions have been coerced by government through the Governor of the North West Region to sign a release calling off the school boycott. We are all aware that the true leaders designated democratically by all the interest groups fighting for the liberation of Anglophones are either in detention or are on the run.
“We have watched Mr Tassang Wilfred, Executive Secretary of CATTU on video from his hiding urging us all to remain firm until we get to the finish line. Those leaders decreed the boycott of 11th February and 20th May celebrations; the reason was to protect the future of our very children to ensure they do not face what we are seeing today.
“Finally, our leaders pointed out clearly that this strike action will only be called off at a press conference publicly. This means that whatever announcement you are getting on CRTV or other media calling off the strike is null and void and should be disregarded. CATTU has only one leader called Tassang Wilfred and so when another person signs for that union, it becomes apparent that this is yet another move of desperation from an ill-intentioned government.
“The Consortium is therefore reiterating that the strike continues and we shall not celebrate 11th February anywhere in West Cameroon. Keep the ghost towns on Monday the 6th, Friday the 10th and Saturday the 11th of February, 2017. God is with us!”
In the statement, the CACSC interim leaders further stated “We have been told government gave each of them 150 million and promised to fly out their families and themselves to Europe, so that your sacrifice should go in vain and their 11 February celebration saved. We must all say NO to them. Keep your children home until the real leaders are released!!”
The declaration suspending the strike was signed by Afu Stephen for the Presbyterian Education Authority Teacher Trade Union (PEATTU), Ayeah Emmanuella for Baptist Teachers Trade Union of Cameroon (BATTUC), Tameh Valentine for Teachers Association of Cameroon (TAC), and Semma Valentine who signed for the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union (CATTU) and on behalf of Tassang Wilfred the Executive Secretary General of CATTU whose whereabouts is unknown.
Meanwhile, SYNES UB and the CEWOTU, that is, Catholic Education Workers Trade Union which has been transformed to CETTU, Catholic Education Teachers Trade Union did not sign.