aof document

Rapport sur les conflits du travail. Fonctionanaires et les syndicats (1936-1938)
in AOF K 18 (1)

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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Lettre de Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Agents du Cadre Commun Sécondaire des Douanes en support du Gouverneur Général de l'AOF Marcel de Coppet (No date)

The European unions supported the Popular Front Gouverneur Général de l'AOF, Marcel de Coppet.


Inspecteur de Travail Romani to l'Administrateur de la Circomscription de Dakar et Dependances, n°2 IT (Dakar, December 23, 1936)

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.]


Renseignement de Police (January 25, 1937)

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.


Chef de District du Dakar-Niger Manot to Directeur du Cheminde Fer Dakar-Niger,
telegram (Tambacounda, April 14, 1937)

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.


Renseignement de Police (May 12, 1937)

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).


Gouverneur Général de l'AOF de Coppet to Ministre de FOM, letter n°1457 (Dakar, July 14, 1937)

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.


Renseignement de Police (Dakar, August 24, 1937)

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.


Gouverneur Général de l'AOF to Gouverneur du Soudan Française, copy of letter n°86/C (Dakar, September 16, 1937)

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 Cercle to 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.


Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Travailleurs Indigènes de Dakar au Niger F. Gning to Gouverneur Général de l'AOF, letter n°183 STIDN (Thiès, October 7, 1937)

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 de 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."


Sécretaire Général du Syndicat des Agents Indigènes des Tresories de l'AOF to Sécretaire Général de la Fédération des Fonctionnaires de l'AOF, copy of a letter (Dakar, no date)

The railroad workers union offered its support for Gouverneur Général de l'AOF de Coppet against "la presse réactionnaire."


"Motion et reconnaissances" (Dakar, 11 August 1938)

This lists the union groups that supported Governor-General de Coppet against metropolitan French opposition:

  1. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Écrivains du Cadre Local des Travaux Publics de la Circonscription
  2. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Comptables des Tresories de l'AOF
  3. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Comptables des Douanes Cadres Secondaires
  4. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Gardes Frontières des Douanes
  5. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Postes, Télégraphs et Télécommunications
  6. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Infirmières Sanitaires
  7. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Instituteurs de la Cadre Sécondaire
  8. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Inscrits Maritimes
  9. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Météaux
  10. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Chauffeurs
  11. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Batiments
  12. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Boulangers
  13. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des Cuisiners
  14. Sécretaire Général de Syndicat des E.M.C.I.B.


Renseignement de Police (Dakar, November 30, 1938)

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.


Gouverneur Général de l'AOF, Affaires Courants Soudan Parenteau to Gouverneur Général de l'AOF (Koulouba, December 1, 1938)

There were neither strike nor disturbances in Bamako on November 30, 1938.