Rapport sur les conflits du travail. Fonctionanaires et les
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The European unions supported the Popular Front Gouverneur Général de l'AOF, Marcel de Coppet.
Bakery workers threatened to strike for higher wages. Most of them worked in French-owned bakeries (Maurel & Prom, LaCoste, Manutention Africaine) and earned 300 francs per month. They also received bread worth 30 francs per month. However, those who worked in Syrian bakeries only got 150 francs per month. Foremen got 400 francs and 300 francs per month respectively. The bread workers demanded 700 francs per month and 1,200 francs per month for foremen, but Inspecteur Romani called this part of a bargaining strategy of "demander beaucoup pour obtenir au fin de compte quelquechose substantiel" (ask for a lot in order to receive something substantial at the end of negotiations).
The bread strike continued into January 1937. [See letters between Inspecteur de Travail Romani and Laity Cissé, Sécretaire Général du Syndicat des Boulangers de la Circomscription de Dakar et Dépendances.]
There was a meeting of 200 government workers (functionaires) on Saturday evening at the Foyer France Sénégal. M. Saguepar, the editor of "Périscope Africain" promised to start a newspaper ("la porte-parole des associations professionelles") to publish grievances in Dakar. An employee of the Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger named Georges Diagne proposed that no action take place until a single Syndicat des Fonctionnaires (union for government workers) was created.
There were several acts of sabotage along the rails between kilometer posts 468.450 and 469.500 just before the Express n°21 was due to pass. Crapauds (iron spikes) and other objects were inserted into the rail-end joints.
Employees of the postal service and the railroad threatened to strike because of a reduction in the "indemnité du zone" (allowance paid to workers who were assigned to areas with a high cost of living).
Railroad workers threatened to strike in October 1937. Governor General de Coppet said that railroad worker salaries were "loin d'etre defavorisé" with salaries in commerce (railroad worker salaries were comparable to those in commerce enterprises). De Coppet believed that the Senegalese had a peculiar notion of their rights as citizens and they resented any discrepancy between them and Europeans.
A railroad strike would hurt the economy and cost more than the salary increase demanded by railroad workers. On the other hand, if the administration yielded, they'd lose a lot of authority.
Post office and railroad office workers threatened to strike. A general strike was planned for the end of September 1937. European workers promised to support the strike in the interest of union solidarity.
If there was a railroad strike in October 1937, it would affect the harvest in French Soudan, so the Gouverneur Général de l'AOF urged the governor of Soudan to take measures to prevent a strike. He told the Governor to secretly inform Commandants du Cercleto notify potential agitators in their cercles that it was in their best interest not to strike. He also suggested that the Governor ask Seydou Nourou Tall to visit railroad centers and speak to railroad workers, urging them to calm down. The Governor-General added that Tall had recently accomplished "la partie la plus important de sa mission" (the most important part of his assignment) in Nioro.
The desire to strike arose after Europeans received a cost- of-living "indemnité" in August 1937 that was retroactive to April 1937. Africans wanted the same.
François Gning controlled the Syndicat des Travailleurs Indigènes de Dakar au Niger. He thanked the Gouverneur Général de l'AOF for solving the conflict described in letter n° 9232F on October 4, 1937 (also described by the Directeur du Chemin de Fer Dakar- Niger Giran).
"Aussi, nous n'avons actuellement qu'un seul regret; c'est d'avoir eu de la défiance vis-à-vis d'un homme qui ne mérité que de la confiance. Mais nous sommes persuadés, Monsieur le Gouverneur Général, que vous daignerez nous excuser. Cette défiance, qui caracterise une simple prudence, était d–e aux déceptions nombreuses hélas subies par les indigènes avant votre avènement au pouvoir."
Roughly translated, Gning wrote that "At this point, we have only one regret--that we opposed a man who deserves the utmost confidence. But we hope that you will understand that this defiance originated from simple prudence demanded by the numerous deceptions practiced by your predecessor."
The railroad workers union offered its support for Gouverneur Général de l'AOF de Coppet against "la presse réactionnaire."
This lists the union groups that supported Governor-General de Coppet against metropolitan French opposition:
About 20 Europeans (out of 45) went on strike at Air France. All were under the command of the Ministre de l'Air. Regular (i.e. civilian) European Air France employees and Africans all remained at work.
There were neither strike nor disturbances in Bamako on November 30, 1938.