Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara used the May 1 Labour Day holiday weekend to announce that civil servants’ salaries can finally increase after more than two decades. His announcement comes at a time when the west African nation’s schools are paralysed by a teachers’ strike — they will be among the beneficiaries of the new move.
“The salaries of all civil servants will be unfrozen from today,” Ouattara told several hundred people at a ceremony to mark May 1.
Civil servants’ pay has been frozen in Ivory Coast since the mid-1980s.
“Promotions can now take place every two years,” Ouattara said. “That means that civil servants’ salaries will rise every two years.”
The measure will affect 113,000 workers — 92,000 teachers and 15,000 health workers — and will cost the state 77.6 billion CFA francs, equivalent to around 120 million euros or $134.5 million.
State-run schools have been closed since Monday by a teachers’ strike over deductions from their salaries for April following a strike in March in which they called for salaries to be allowed to increase — the measure announced on Friday.
“To appease the situation, and in an exceptional move, I will tell the government to pay back the deductions,” Ouattara said.
The president faces an election in October in an economically important country for Africa that experienced more than a decade of instability until Ouattara took power in 2011.
More than 3,000 people died in post-election violence in 2010 and 2011 after former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara.