Chad’s government and unions have signed a deal to end a strike over austerity measures that has paralyzed the public sector for more than six weeks. The impoverished country, badly hit by a fall in the price of oil exports since 2015, introduced the austerity measures this year to meet the requirements of international donors. But the public spending cuts have increased social tension and anger towards President Idriss Deby, in power since 1990.
Trade unions called an indefinite general strike in the state sector on January 29 after the government slashed civil servants’ pay, and since then the whole public sector has stopped work, paralyzing key sectors. Late on Wednesday, the government and the trade union consortium announced a deal after two weeks of negotiations.
It calls for “the suspension of the strike and the resumption of work” after payments to civil servants, some 31,000 of whom did not receive wages in February. In 2017, public-sector salaries totaled 376 billion CFA francs, roughly the equivalent of the combined revenue from income tax and customs duties, according to official figures given.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) opened up a three-year $312 million (254 million euro) credit line last June under a stabilization program. But Chad, where nearly 40 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, has to make progress in improving state finances in order to gain access to the full amount.