Letter from Côte d’Ivoire Agencement workers.
On 17 October, 50 workers from a building company called ‘Côte d’Ivoire Agencement’ (CIA) were sacked by their bosses with their last month’s wage unpaid. With the full support of the CWI group in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as of many workers still working for the company, the dismissed workers started to agitate for their reinstatement and for their wages to be paid. They organised a protest at the company offices, which was warmly received with applause from workers and passers-by in the area. Following this action, the nervous management made important concessions. The bosses even politely asked the workers not to make too much noise about the dispute! This victory, the first of its kind since the company was founded, is a good example that when resisting and standing together workers can win.
Below is a short letter from Côte d’Ivoire Agencement workers addressed to the CWI.
Following our protest movement, we have forced the management of Côte d’Ivoire Agencement (CIA) to receive us within its offices. The management was visibly panicked and surprised by our movement, and quickly put forward a series of concessions.
Thus, we obtained:
- The payment of the remaining wages of the dismissed workers
- Redundancy compensation for all the dismissed workers
- The right for the workers still working for CIA to establish a workers’ committee within the factory
We are still demanding an increase in our wages, the strengthening of the security on our workplace, and the hiring of all workers with written contracts rather than with mere verbal agreements (since the company has a habit of keeping its workers in the informal sector, it can act as it wishes against them).
Despite the fact that the dismissed workers did not have a written contract, we demand also the full payment of the last month in which work has been done by them (including the non-working days).
We are now considering expanding our movement to other construction companies, including the company PFO, of which CIA is a contractor in Cote d’Ivoire.
These gains have been made quickly on the basis of a simple protest. The fact that we have been received and considered by the bosses, for the first time in workers’ memory, and that management is currently in a state where it begs us to “stop making noise”, encourages us to move even further.
If the simple act of having protested outside the company’s headquarters has created such surprises and panic, think about what might happen later!
A big thank you for the support you have given to our struggle!