2.6 Teachers are dissatisfied with their working conditions. Respondents to the PADEP survey questionnaire were asked to assess their living and working conditions. The following table summarises their level of satisfaction with different aspects of their working conditions.
Table 2.5: Education workers’ satisfaction/dissatisfaction with their working conditions.
The results show that education workers are dissatisfied with:
Pay levels (see pie chart opposite*);
92% of respondents considered that teachers in Burkina Faso earned less than they should.
[*: Title of chart: “Pay satisfaction”. Segments, clockwise from top: No salary / Very satisfied / Satisfied / Dissatisfied / Very dissatisfied / Not at all satisfied]
Their sense of frustration is exacerbated by the fact that, in order to carry out the adjustments promoted by the Bretton Woods institutions, the “powers that be” are asking workers “to tighten their belts to the last notch while they themselves are so gorged that their suspenders are snapping under the load of their fat bellies”.
For comparison purposes, we may note here that while a teacher earns between 30,000 and 50,000 CFA francs per month and 47% of the population have an income of about 6,000 CFA francs/month, the monthly salary of an MP is 589,641 CFA francs52.
Table 2.6 below shows the evolution of the benefits and allowances accorded to government ministers.
Table 2.6: Benefits and allowances granted to government ministers
Table 2.7 provides a comparison between the “self-adjustment measures” [carried out under the “Garangose” and CNR’s regimes – TN] and the reforms implemented under the so-called “orthodox” SAPs. It should be noted that these measures did not concern only education workers.
The sense of frustration arising from the above-mentioned situation has made the hardship and poor working conditions more difficult to bear. This is why, in their statements, all unions have rejected the educational innovations and the Ten-year Basic Education Development Plan (PDDEB), and have the taken action to protect their members’ established rights.
Table 2.7: Comparison between self-adjustment measures and the reforms implemented under the “orthodox” SAPs
“Garangose” regime: 1966-1972
Self-adjustment plans under CNR: 1983-1987
Orthodox SAPs since 1991
- Dismissal of “parasitic” civil servants;
- Freeze on recruitment (including any new recruits to fill existing vacancies);
- Reduction of retirement age from 59 to 55 and compulsory retirement of all workers aged 55 and over;
Reduction of retirement age from 55 to 53; compulsory retirement; dismissals; creation of “Agents Corps”, etc.
Personnel cuts/Human resources development.
- Recruitment of 950 teachers in 1992 and 1,300 in 1993; thereafter, 950 new teachers per year; public contest for admission to National Schools for Primary Teachers (ENEP);
- General reform of public administration;
- Compulsory retirement in 1991-95 (at age 52).
Pay and benefit cuts
- Abolition of index-linking for public-sector employees (including embassy staff);
- Adjustment of the index-linked rate, down from 1.940 to 1.746 between 1967 and 1968, then back to 1.940 in 1969;
- Increase of index-linked rate 1.990, then to 2.050 in December 1972 (following devaluation of French franc).
50% devaluation of CFA franc in relation to foreign currencies as of 12 January 1994.
- Reduction [sic] from 50 to 75% of various benefits and allowances granted to the presidents of government institutions, ministers and high officials;
- General abolition of free housing, even in the case of government ministers; restrictions introduced on gas, electricity, water and telephone consumption;
- Reduction of domestic staff in the service of government ministers and high officials to strict minimum, i.e. a cook and a gardener;
- Tourist class fares introduced for all civil servants with the exception of ministers and presidents of government institutions.
- Abolition of director and head of unit positions;
- Abolition of private use of telex equipment in ministries and the Government’s General Secretariat; restrictions on international telephone calls;
- Restrictions on free fuel and various supplies and services (electricity, water, telephone, stationery, transport, etc.);
- Tourist class fares extended to ministers and presidents of government institutions;
- Abolition of subsidies to state-owned companies.
- Abolition of accommodation allowances for senior staff who were entitled to administrative accommodation but who preferred not to occupy it in order to collect the resulting financial benefits.
- Abolition of various grants and exemptions.
3. The unions’ response Faced with the deterioration of their living and working conditions, education workers have reacted not only by fighting back through their unions and confederations, but also by trying to cope at individual level.
3.1 Main “adaptation strategies” At individual level, in addition to “fleeing” (i.e. resigning from their jobs, as mentioned above), education workers have adopted other strategies to adapt to the situation. For example, to make ends meet, some teachers work in private establishments and give private lessons. This additional employment is known – in the jargon of secondary school teachers – as mercenariat or “mercenariness”.
3.1.1 “Mercenariness” and “peasantification” Supply teaching and individual private lessons are paid at the following rates:
Table 3.1: Hourly rates for supply teaching and private lessons
1st cycle of secondary ed.
2nd cycle of secondary ed.
Hourly rate for supply teaching in private sector
This additional employment can account for more than half of a teacher’s income, especially in the case of Maths, Science and Physics/Chemistry teachers.
Secondary schoolteachers explain that the reason they do not wish to be assigned to schools in small towns is that, in such places, there are usually too few (private or public) establishments offering supply teaching opportunities.
The above-mentioned survey conducted by the PADEP from 1997 to 2001 showed that most of the education workers who responded to the questionnaire earned extra income from a wide range of secondary activities other than teaching. As evidenced by Table 3.2 below, taken from the survey, these activities include not only stockbreeding and farming but also, e.g., the sale of refreshments (water, ice-cream, bissap55, ginger ale, monkey bread, etc.) as well as of fabrics and jewellery imported into the cities.
Table 3.2: Education workers engaged in secondary employment activities (crafts and/or farming)
Overall, only 42% of respondents stated that they were not involved in farming or stockbreeding.
One union points out that some teachers no longer hesitate to engage in shady “deals” such as the misappropriation of funds and foodstuffs intended for teaching establishments, the “sale” of school places, etc.
3.1.2 Union action in the face of the SAPs
Education workers are also struggling against the negative effects of the SAPs through their unions, which, to this end, have engaged in training activities, collective bargaining and strike action.
There are no fewer than nine unions in the Burkinese education sector:
The “Association nationale des étudiants Burkinabés” (ANEB), which organises students;
The “Syndicat national des enseignants africains du Burkina” (SNEAB);
The “Syndicat national des travailleurs de l’éducation de base” (SYNATEB);
The “Syndicat autonome des travailleurs de l’éducation de base” (SATEB);
The “Fédération syndicale de l’enseignement et de la recherche” (FSER);
The “Syndicat du personnel administratif et de gestion de l’éducation et de la recherche” (SYNAPAGER);
The “Syndicat national des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur” (SNESS);
The “Syndicat national des travailleurs de l’Education et de la recherche” (SYNTER).
Furthermore, a union of secondary- and higher-education personnel and teachers (“Syndicat des personnels et des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur” – SPESS) has recently been founded.
During their congresses as well as in the course of seminars, these organisations have repeatedly discussed the impact of the Structural Adjustment Programmes on union members and, more generally, the situation of education in Burkina Faso. On at least two separate occasions, the theme of SYNTER’s Congress concerned the SAPs and their consequences for workers’ established democratic and social rights.
The 18th ordinary Congress of the SNESS, held on 28-29 March 2002, focused on the theme “The challenges confronting teachers’ unions in a globalised society”.
In its activities’ report, the SNEAB refers to several collective bargaining rounds and mentions the following gains in particular:
The upward adjustment of pays rates in August 1994 and the re-establishment of the index-linked rate at 2132;
A 10-franc reduction in the respective prices of a kilo of rice and a litre of fuel;
Exemption from VAT on the first 50 m3 of water and first 150 kWh of electricity;
A rise in examiners’ per diems and allowances in respect of accommodation, extra duties and test marking.
However, the unions have not limited themselves to bargaining. Since 1991, the two unions of teachers in secondary and higher education (SNESS and SYNTER) have taken part in various forms of direct action. From 11 to 15 July, a strike threatened to disrupt the “baccalauréat” exams. Strike action was resumed from 4 May to 13 June 1993 and subsequently from February to May 1995. Teachers’ demands concerned:
The benefits and allowances granted to examiners;
Salaries and job security in the private sector.
Most teachers’ federations and unions also took part in the response organised at central level by the seven national confederations to protest against the anti-labour measures contained in the SAPs.
Furthermore, with the help of their international partners, these unions organised a number of seminars to gain a better insight into developments, understand the implications of the SAPs for workers and identify remedial measures.
184.108.40.206 Bargaining and strike action When the unions were invited to participate in a National Economic Conference in May 1990, some of them, including the confederations CNTB, CSB and USTB, as well as several independent unions such as the SNEAB, took the opportunity to express their concerns and the mistrust of workers’ organisations with regard to the promises of a “soft” Structural Adjustment Programme.
“Some, as in the case of the group of unions made up of the CSB, USTB and CNTB, expressed reservations. Others, for example the ‘Syndicat autonome des magistrats du Burkina’ (Independent Union of Burkinese Magistrates – SAMAB), rejected the SAP outright.” (Sidwaya No. 1519 of 14 May) 1990. Still others, including the CGTB and ONSL, declined to take part in the conference.
From 15 to 17 November 1991, the Burkinese trade union movement as a whole held a General Trade Union Conference, centred on the theme “The SAP and the incipient establishment of the rule of law – What prospects for Burkinese workers?”.
The General Trade Union Conference drew a balance sheet of the development of the trade union movement, analysed the economic, political and social situation in the country, and drew up a list of workers’ concerns and demands. The principal of these were subsequently included in a Protocol of Understanding that was signed with the government on 12 December 1991 and which called into question most of the pre-SAP [sic] measures such as promotions without attendant financial benefits and the lowering of the retirement age to 53.
The CGTB and its grassroots organisations staged a number of strikes in an effort to ensure implementation of the Protocol of Understanding by the government. Leading on from this, early in 1993 the government invited the unions to take part in negotiations within a Tripartite Bargaining Commission (“Commission tripartite de concertation” – CTC). The CTC – which was presented as evidence of the government’s good intentions – nevertheless resulted in the division of the trade union movement into two groups:
The so-called “Group of 13” (five confederations and eight independent unions close to the government);
The CGTB Group (aligned with opposition parties).
The Group of 13 limited its action to criticising the consequences of the SAP for workers. For its part the CGTB Group rejected the SAP outright and, with it, the entire set of economic and social policies of the Fourth Burkinese Republic.
Thus, wen the CFA franc was devalued in January 1994, the unions, which were divided in two camps, reacted in a fragmented fashion. Acting on their own, each of the two groups organised a number of strikes that had no real impact on the government’s position. Nor was there any real unity of action in dealing with the general reform of the public administration system.
Some unions, however, tried to make the most of the participation opportunities offered by the government in order to try to influence decision-making to their members’ advantage.
220.127.116.11 Upstream action
Since the beginning of the democratic process in June 1991, and even much earlier than that, governments and institutions missed no occasion to state their commitment to codetermination. According to the government, one of the guiding principles of the “renewal of economic and social policy” was “participation of the population and civil society (notably NGOs and other associations) in formulating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating development policies and programmes”56.
As previously mentioned, some unions, including those in the education sector, took part in the National Economic Conferences of 1990 and 1995.
At the opening of the SNESS Congress57, the Minister for Secondary and Higher Education and Scientific Research stated that “the notion of education partners acquires its full significance in relation to the overall management of the education system… In this respect, it is particularly important for teachers to be closely involved in the debate on education. This was the case at the National Consultative Assembly on Education, and we shall pursue such a participatory approach. With this aim in mind, we shall place the emphasis on reactivating the Higher Council for Education in the course of the year.”
In its report to the congress of XXX58, the SNEAB confirmed that the unions were always invited to take part in the conferences organised by the various competent ministries, standing commissions and ad hoc committees – including the following:
“Etats Généraux de l’Education” (National Consultative Assembly on Education)
“Assises nationales sur l’Education” (National Education Conference)
National Education Forum
“Conseils d’Administration des secteurs ministériels” (Boards of the Ministerial Sectors – CASEM)
Boards of the “Ecoles Nationales des Enseignants du Primaire” (National Schools for Primary Teachers – ENEP)
National Commission for Monitoring the Ten-year Basic Education Development Plan (PDDEB)
Official launch of the ES59 and the “Centres d’Education de Base Non Formelle” (Informal Basic Education Centres – CEBNF)
Commission for the validation of applications for employment contests
Commission for amending the regulations governing technical education
Commission for dealing with career management issues
Committee for the management of financial benefits for rehabilitated persons
“Fonds National pour l’Education et la recherche” (National Fund for Education and Research – FONER)