- Government-run schools, hospitals and clinics and most administrative services in Chad have all been closed since 2 May when most of the country's 32,000 civil servants went on strike demanding the government uses oil revenues to give them a wage increase. By now, the population seems to suffer more than government.
"If the salaries are not paid we are ready to go to the streets," Laldjim Narcisse, a secondary school teacher told the UN media 'IRIN' on Friday. "The government has much more money than it had before [from oil revenue] but it is only using it to buy weapons," he complained.
Most observers in N'djamena said that the threat of the strike turning into a popular uprising us unlikely. "The unions only really represent the interests of civil servants and most of the population are unemployed and see civil servants as the fat cats," said one analyst.
Meanwhile, the population is certainly suffering. "My wife was very sick last month but when I took her to hospital no one was there to receive her," said Annour Ali, a local trader. "It is not fair that I had to take her to a private clinic that cost me far more than I could afford."
A final-year high student, Samuel Madjingar, said that exams he had been preparing for for a long time were coming up next week. The government has started sending troops to the schools to monitor exams, but Mr Madjingar doubted that would be worthwhile. "We need teachers not soldiers to monitor out tests otherwise we think it would be better to just postpone the texts," the student said.
On Thursday, President Idriss Déby conceded to union demands by offering a 15 percent salary increase. "With this salary increase, big projects planned for the majority of Chadians will be penalised," said government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor in a communiqué.
He added that it would create a shortage of funds to improve access to water, health, environment, education and agriculture. "The people of Chad are in effect making a sacrifice for the civil servants," he said.
But union members rejected the argument, saying that Chad has become an oil rich nation. "They have the oil money now and they can afford to give us a decent wage," said one teacher. Salaries for teachers vary across Chad, but the maximum income per month is around 100,000 CFA (US$ 200).
The coordinator of most of the unions, Djibrine Assali, responded to the 15 percent offer on Saturday by telling 'IRIN' that although health workers would now start to restore minimum health services, his members have rejected the government offer and nothing has really changed. "We need at least 25 percent."
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