Conversation with several
officers of the Association des Cheminots Retraités,
Section de Bamako
|Notes © 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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We met in their office at 11am. I did not tape this interview because I was trying to get comfortable with them. Cheik Sidya Diombana, the Secrétaire Général of the Association was present, as were M. Keita, the Secrétaire Administrative; Pathé Sangaré, the Vice-Président; Idris Sahouard, the Président and Abdoul Salaam Touré, a member.
I asked them about the Compagnie des Sapeurs Indigènes and its potential role as strikebreakers, since I'd seen a 1938 letter from Capt. Jannssens, the company commander, concerning their readiness to operate a limited service in the event of a strike.
Abdoul Salaam Touré was a former Sapeur and he assured me that the Sappeurs did not act as strikebreakers during the 1947-1948 strike. Apparently, the Compagnie de Sapeurs was a military operation employed as a cost-cutting measure by the French, who drafted cheminots into the army and made them operate the part of the line between Koulikoro and Bamako. The Compagnie de Sapeurs was disbanded in 1941 when all cheminots were drafted for service during the war. In 1945, they were inducted into the railroad work force as auxiliaires, keeping their time served for computation of seniority, but not for salaries.