2 more dead after Guinea announces deal with teacher unions

AP News
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Posted: Feb 21, 2017 5:14 PM

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Two more people died Tuesday in demonstrations supporting striking teachers after Guinea's government announced an agreement with the country's two largest teacher unions on ending walkouts that have closed schools since the beginning of the month.

A total of seven people were killed on Monday and Tuesday as police clashed with students protesting in support of teachers and demanding an agreement so they could return to classes. Violence on Monday also injured 30 people, and police arrested 12, the government said.

In a statement Tuesday, the government condemned violence, and said an investigation had been opened into the deaths.

The government said teachers would have to wait until September for pay increases, but other details of the agreement signed late Monday were not available. The strikes began in early February demanding pay raises and better training for contracted teachers.

Souleymane Sy Savane, secretary-general for Guinea's Free Trade Union of Teachers and Researchers, said schools would re-open Wednesday as negotiations continue.

But others said they did not agree with the settlement and wanted the pay increase immediately.

"This agreement is binding only for the trade union officials who signed it, and we are basically challenging it until the re-evaluation (pay raise) is effective," Kalidou Diallo, administrative secretary of the union, told private radio station Lynx FM early Tuesday.

The unions said Monday that they were seeking a pay raise of between 7.5 percent and 10.3 percent.

Police responded with force to Monday's demonstrations by hundreds of students. The dead were shot at close range by riot police and gendarmerie, a hospital worker said. The staffer insisted on speaking anonymously because he was not permitted to speak to the media.