General strike in Burkina Faso

Workers from the public and private sectors throughout Burkina Faso launched a two-day strike April 8 to protest high food costs and demand salary increases. Ouagadougou, the capital, was almost completely shut down. In Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city in the west of the country, the central market was closed. Police were out in force in front of banks and government offices.

The unions are pressing the government to increase salaries by 25% in the public sector, and to reduce taxes on fuel and food stuffs. The government has dropped taxes on food imports. But in a joint statement the unions accused the government of “leniency and complicity” with the businessmen. More than 46% of Burkina Faso’s 14 million people live below the poverty line. The prime minister (Tertius Zongo) speaking before parliament March 27 dismissed the protests as futile. “The people can march and march but nothing will change.” The unions responded in the joint declaration, “We will march, march until the situation does change.” (IRIN, April 8)

See our last post on the Sahel and the peak food crisis.