Benin health sector unions call off two-month strike

#1
Benin’s government and health sector
unions have reached an agreement to end
a crippling two-month strike that saw
treatment in public hospitals and clinics
grind to a halt, the government said on
Saturday.
Workers walked out in August over
proposed privatisation plans, which are
part of wider free-market reforms from
President Patrice Talon’s government to
kick-start the country’s slowing economy.
The walkout is said to have been
responsible for the deaths of a number of
patients and led to mounting public anger.
But a government source said an
agreement was signed late Friday and that
nearly 2.5 billion CFA (3.7 million euros)
would be made available towards
improving salaries and conditions.
Benin’s economy is largely dependent on
trade with its larger neighbour to the east,
Nigeria, which has itself not long emerged
from a months-long recession.
Talon’s plans for recovery — at a time of
rising costs of living and tax — have seen a
wave of industrial action in recent months,
including the court and education sectors.
One union leader said the government had
agreed to postpone the creation of a
working group to look into the
implementation of the privatisation plan.
Development minister Abdoulaye Bio
Tchane, who led the negotiations, said:
“The government showed its willingness to
meet the demands of the health sector
unions and to end the strike in this very
crucial sector.”
The government gave “its agreement in
principle to resolve, in the shortest time
possible, concerns about workers’ jobs in
the sector”, he added.
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