The 133rd edition of the international Labor Day has been commemorated today May 1st, 2019 in Cameroon under the theme “Worker’s Protection: Vector of Social Justice and Descent work in Cameroon.”
In the restive North West and South West regions of the country, the event was marred by the deteriorating sociopolitical and security crisis. It has become normality that whenever there is an official event in the two regions, either a ghost town or a lockdown is declared by separatists to sabotage the event.
The 2019 edition of the International Labor Day was not an exception; it was commemorated amidst a three days lock down from the 29th of April to the 1st of May 2019 imposed by separatists to prevent the event from recording a success.
In Fako division, some workers braved the odds and converged at the Manga Williams Avenue in the OPEC city of Limbe to commemorate the event. The event which was chaired by the Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) for Fako, Emmanuel Engamba Ledoux witnessed a relatively low turnout.
Most workers who took part in the march past where not in uniform as it has been the case in previous years. However, workers of the Buea council stole the show as they march past the grandstand in their numbers, clad in the beautiful fabric of the council.
In Kumba, capital city of Meme Division, it was basically the same scenario but for the fact that the turnout was even less. Only councils in the division took part in the march past; Kumba city council, Mbonge and Konye councils. According to the SDO for Meme Chamberlin Ntou’ou Ndong who chaired the event, private workers failed to participate in the match past due to fear and threats coming from pro-independence fighters.
In Bamenda, capital city of Mezam division, though some few workers came out to march, the streets were deserted and there was an intense gun battle between pro-independence fighters and the armed forces at the neighborhoods of Ntarikon, Alakuma, Nchouboh and other parts of the city.
This year’s edition of the international Labour Day has been commemorated at a time when several workers have lost their jobs in the two restive English speaking regions of the country. Giant organizations like the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) in Fako Division which is the second largest employer after the government and PAMOL in Ndian division are virtually on their knees.
Most workers of these corporations have not been to their jobsites for several months due to threats from separatist fighters. As a matter of fact, CDC workers in areas like Tiko have been attacked on several occasions with some of them ending up with chopped fingers. Most estates of these corporations have been shut down and as a result; workers have equally not been paid for several months.
Business operators have equally been severely affected by the crisis as a result of the numerous ghost towns and lockdowns. It is therefore clear that this Labor Day should not just be an occasion for March pasts and merrymaking. It should equally be an opportunity for some reflections to be done on the deteriorating situation.
Workers in these affected areas need to be provided with a conducive environment that will enable them carry out their activities peacefully as well as salaries to take care of themselves and their families and this can only be done if a long lasting solution is provided to the deepening Anglophone crisis.