Friday Statement of the Confederation of Anglophone Teachers Trade Unions
Meeting Friday, 09/12/2016, in the wake of intended demonstrations and counter demonstrations with untold tragic consequences, we, leaders of the Confederation of Anglophone teacher trade unions and initiators of the strike of 21/11/2016, saw the need to make a few pointed remarks.
We indicate that the street demonstrations that erupted on the day our strike began was from every indication due to the desperate attempts that were being made by the administration to puncture the sit-in call and that it ended up being a route through which other legitimate grievances were tabled. We note with indignation that certain government officials are intent on labeling our noble Anglophone subsystem of education crusade as a xenophobic campaign against our francophone compatriots. This is false! We have said and shall continue to say that we are campaigning for the best Anglo-Saxon practices to be introduced into the English subsystem, like the best French practices are being introduced into the francophone subsystem of education, so that Cameroonian children of any provenance who choose either subsystem should find that subsystem worthy of their aspirations.
We regret the uncalled for losses, especially of life but also the unnecessary material damage to public and private property, and recall that the strike we initiated was a sit-in. We also deplore the provocation that the ill-timed CPDM march constituted, in line with the fears of many administrators and elite whom we are reliably informed had gauged the rising tides of passion and had sought in vain to dissuade determined militants of that idea.
We use this medium to appeal to leaders of the various groups that demonstrated their support for our advocacy for the Anglophone educational subsystem that they should do all in their power to talk to their members and appeal to them for calm. We add our voices to theirs to appeal that the calm that is already returning should be maintained and sustained.
We assert that we are not intransigent as we have been labeled, because we have not closed avenues for dialogue with the government. We refused to suspend the strike when the contentious core issue of the recruitment of “1000 bilingual teachers” was not being straightened out. We nevertheless indicated our willingness to start work in the ad hoc committee, in the hope of having something concrete in hand to enable the suspension of the strike. Then in a twist, the unfortunate incidents of Thursday led to the closure of especially lay private and confessional institutions. This leaves us with no option but to suggest that work should begin so that the committee has ample time to examine all contentious issues to be able to put in place reasoned, viable solutions in respect of the 1998 Orientation Law and an acceptable implementation time frame, which will go a long way to enhance a smooth re-opening for the second term.
We express our indignation at the fact that after this unfortunate closure of private institutions, administrators are rather employing high-handed methods to arm-twist teachers of public institutions to go back to school. We warn that any salary suspensions at this moment when all stakeholders of good will are making reasoned calls for bona fide dialogue with attendant sustainable results will only go to further complicate the dialogue.
We conclude by suggesting advisedly that government should equally take advantage of this unfortunate holiday to also engage in useful dialogue with the Anglophone lawyers, whose legitimate grievances are equally shared by the Anglophone community. This should enable Cameroon to enter the New Year, 2017, in a spirit of reconciliation and togetherness.
Done in Bamenda, this 10th day of December, 2016
BATTUC SYNES UB CHAPTER
SYNES UBa CHAPTER