The Gabonese teachers union CONASYSED met on Saturday at the half way point of their one month strike for pay justice. They decided that their strike would continue and that the actions of the government had only made them more determined. Security forces have attacked striking teachers, intimidated them, made death threats and arrested several activists. The union is demanding their release and the sacking of public officials responsible for the arrests and intimidation.

CONASYSED is demanding meaningful negotiations over their pay - they earn a paltry $130 a month and even that is not paid to them in full or on a regular basis. Dictator Ali Bongo is planning a new system for teachers - performance related pay - yet another example of the way in which corporate 'reform' methods are spreading globally. As well as decent salaries, the union is demanding permanent status for contract teachers and the building of schools. The union says members can be proud of their determination in following the strike mandate. 

Gabon has one of the highest average per capita incomes in Africa, yet a large proportion of the population is living in poverty, including teachers. Average life expectancy is only 52 years. It has rich mineral reserves, including oil and manganese but these are syphoned off partly by an elite group, led by Bongo and his coterie, who took over from his father as ruler of the country in 2009, and partly by global corporations. These bodies enjoy areas of the country where there is full tax exemption for ten years, 'relaxed' labour laws and energy at 50% of the price, which consumers have to pay. No wonder the US Central Intelligence Agency praises Bongo in its 'factbook' for, "taking steps to make Gabon a more attractive investment destination"