By Andrew Nsoseka
The National Union of Teachers of Higher Education best known by its French acronym, SYNES has served a strike notice to the government over unpaid research modernisation allowance, and unpaid debts of state universities in Cameroon.
SYNES warns that should the government fail to act concretely on their demands by the end of May, a strike action will be launched by the Higher Education teachers on June 2, 2022.
In their strike notice served to government, SYNES stated that “in Press Release No. 02 03 2022 of March 7, 2022, SYNES reiterated the terms of its press release of February 28, 2022, in which it asked the Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education, in particular, ‘to cheer Higher Education Teachers by making full payment of the research modernization allowance for the first quarter of 2022 on due date and simultaneously for all teachers, and by communicating a reasonable timetable for the clearing of the academic debt of State Universities’”.
In the release, SYNES outlined that the academic debt which it wants the government to clear, “is the backlog of statutory services that have remained unpaid tor years and consists, in particular of Complementary Hours taught, Supervision of Dissertations and Theses, participation in defense juries of dissertations and theses and payment of hours taught by part-time teachers,” the release clarified.
In a public statement issued to announce the strike action if the government fails to meet their demands, SYNES recalls and states that “in reaction to the ongoing strike, (by secondary and now primary education teachers) the Minister of State, Secretary-General at the Presidency of the Republic, in correspondence No. 268/CF/SG/PR of March 09, 2022, transmitted the high instructions of the Head of the State for handling the demands formulated by Teachers to Government, which entirely ignored the concerns of Teachers of the Higher Education, and moreover excluded the Minister in charge of Higher Education from the members of the Government concerned with the press conference of Thursday 10 March 2022”.
The Higher Education Teachers Union said the move excluding their own demands and Ministry from those drafted to address concerns of teachers, “is an unequivocal proof that the situation of the teachers of Higher Education is not a preoccupation of the
“In the face of such indifference form the government and considering the sufficiently responsible and conciliatory posture of Higher Education Teachers, the Secretary General of the National Executive Bureau of the National Union of Higher Education Teachers (BEN-SYNES) and the Coordinators of SYNES in State Universities met by videoconference on March 17, 2022. Following this consultation, reiterates the terms of its previous press releases of February 28 and March 7, 2022 mentioned above;
“Reaffirms its availability for dialogue and consultation with a view to finding negotiated solutions to all the concerns of Teachers in Cameroon;
Demands from the Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education, to have the first instalment of the research modernization allowance for 2022 paid when due;
Further requests the MINESUP to communicate, before the end of May 2022, a reasonable timetable for the clearance of all the academic debt owed by State Universities;
“Alerts the national community that in the event of inaction from Government by the end of May 2022, the terms of this Press Release, which also serves as notice of Strike, will be implemented to begin on June 02, 2022;
Invites Higher Education teachers to suspend all academic activities as of June
02, 2022, if the schedule for the clearance of all academic debt of state universities has not been agreed upon and made public by May 31, 2022.
The modalities for the conduct of the possible strike action will be communicated if need arises for them,” the SYNES strike notice tersely reads.
The strike notice from SYNES comes at a time when the government is battling to end the strike action of secondary and primary school teachers who are striking against the accrued debts owed them by the state in hundreds of billions. Unlike in most cases, half-hearted measures taken by the government to cause teachers to resume their duties in various schools failed as the teachers remained resolute. This forced President Biya to issue out new orders instructing his ministers to give the teachers their due.