From email@example.com Tue Jan 29 12:00:08
From: ICFTU Press <firstname.lastname@example.org>
ICFTU Online <email@example.com>
Subject: ICFTU online: Madagascar
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2002 16:54:47 +0100
INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNION CONFEDERATION (ICFTU)
Brussels, 29 January 2002 (ICFTU Online): The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) expressed concern on Tuesday at the plight of workers in Madagascar, where the opposition has called for a general strike, which has paralysed several sectors of the country since Monday.
Almost half a million Madagascans demonstrated in the centre of the capital city Antananarivo on Monday. The general strike was called by the opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana, who is claiming victory from the first round of the presidential election on 16 December and refuses to stand in a second round, scheduled for 24 February, against the President Didier Ratsiraka.
The State, along with the private sector, announced that the strikers would not be paid, contrary to normal practice in the country. Whilst private firms did allow their workers to demonstrate in the morning, this was on condition that the hours were made up in the evening.
The ICFTU is concerned at the worsening of the situation and the
negative impact this will have on workers, announced ICFTU General
Secretary, Guy Ryder, who went on to deplore the fact that this
setback for the deepening democratisation process
According to the official election results Mr. Ravalomana, who has 46.21% of the votes, is ahead of Mr. Ratsiraka (with 40.89%). However the opposition leader claims to have won by an absolute majority of 52.15% of the votes cast.
For three years now Madagascar has seen economic growth, not least owing to the booming of the country's export processing zones. However, this unbalanced growth has led to frustration amongst workers, since large proportions of the rural population are not seeing the benefits. Indeed, a shocking 70% of Madagascans are still living below the poverty line.
Madagascar has already come under continued fire from the Confederation of Madagascan Workers (FMM) (an ICFTU affiliate), due to the 100,000 workers in export zones still suffering in awful working conditions and from persistent anti-union practices.
The ICFTU represents 157 million workers in 226 affiliated organisations in 148 countries and territories. The ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions: http://www.global-unions.org
Contact: ICFTU Press Department on 32 2 224 0232 or 32 476 62 10 18.