IUF affiliates in West and Central Africa have affirmed their determination to defend workers’ livelihoods and work together for a peaceful resolution to the worsening crisis in Cameroon.
Since late 2016, the bilingual (English/French) West African nation has descended into a spiral of violence, human rights violations and economic destruction. Strikes, protests and demonstrations organized in the English-speaking western part of the country against the progressive marginalization of the Anglophone minority have been violently repressed by the security forces (documented by Amnesty International in this 2017 report). Government brutality has in turn spawned an armed secessionist movement.
Workers employed in the private banana sector and in the diverse operations of the state-owned Cameroon Development Corporation CDC (bananas, palm oil, tea, among other crops), which operates across the language divide, are experiencing massive job losses and the threat of worse to come as fields and infrastructure are targeted for destruction. Workers idled by the violence receive no compensation. The political crisis, transformed into a human rights crisis through the escalating violence, is developing into a massive crisis of food security and employment.
In May, unions organizing in the CDC including the IUF-affiliated FAKO, jointly with CDC management called on the government to act with urgency to ensure peace and livelihood protection. There was no government response.
In June, the IUF network of African banana workers’ unions similarly called on the government to act, again with no response. In July, unions meeting at the network’s annual regional workshop in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, again affirmed their solidarity and the urgency of measures to restore peace and national dialogue, noting the failure of regional and international intergovernmental organizations to take appropriate action.
The IUF is pursuing means of international pressure to defend jobs, livelihoods and food security in Cameroon.