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Date: Sun, 23 Mar 97 23:24:34 CST
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Police Attack ICFTU Conference In Congo

/** labr.global: 305.0 **/
** Topic: Police Attack ICFTU Conference In Congo **
** Written 3:48 PM Mar 22, 1997 by labornews in cdp:labr.global **
From: Institute for Global Communications <labornews@igc.apc.org>
Subject: Police Attack ICFTU Conference In Congo

Congo police raid forces ICFTU to suspend meeting in Brazzaville

From ICFTU OnLine, 20 March 1997

Brussels - Police intervention has prompted the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to suspend a major conference on structural adjustment in Brazzaville yesterday.

The two-day conference prepared in conjunction with the ICFTU local affiliates, the COSYLAC and the CSTC, was aimed "at providing the possibility for all social partners in Congo to discuss and reach a consensus way forward to cope with privatisation and other major socio-economic issues which Congo is graplling with today", says the ICFTU.

On the opening day (Wednesday March 19), however, security forces, refused entry to 20 leaders of COSYLAC, the Confederation of Free and Autonomous Trade Unions, including its President Oba Ren Blanchard.

Police gave no reason for their intervention, but claims that they had acted upon the request of a dissenting labour group were dismissed as highly suspicious by the ICFTU.

The ICFTU recalls that Oba Ren Blanchard was arrested last year together with three Cosylac colleagues for having organised strikes in opposition to privatisation moves. The four were beaten up in prison and released after a 5 month campaign by the ICFTU and its affiliates world-wide.

In Brussels, ICFTU general secretary Bill Jordan condemned the security force intervention. "Efforts to convince the authorities to provide a guarantee that the conference could take place without interference have failed", he added, saying that under the cirmcumstances "the ICFTU strongly regrets that it has no other choice than to suspend the conference."

The ICFTU has been running a series of conferences throughout Africa to help trade unions and social partners address social issues linked with structural adjustment programmes. Like previous conferences, the Brazzaville event was to be attended by senior representatives from the UN's International Labour Office (ILO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

For details contact ICFTU Press at ++322 224 02 12. Other OnLine news on Poptel Bulletin Board ICFTU-Online for geonet users and on the WWW at:http://www.icftu.org