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Strike paralyses Guinea’s capital, vital mining sector

WORKERS started a national strike in Guinea, shutting businesses and disrupting operations across the mining sector as they demanded higher wages, the lifting of web restrictions and the release of a detained trade union leader.

Streets were largely empty, banks closed and normally bustling markets deserted in the West African country’s capital Conakry. Security forces were deployed at major road junctions.

There was no immediate comment from the government which was set up by a military junta that seized power in a 2021 coup. It has quashed recurring anti-government protests, sometimes violently, in the last few years.

A senior official of a mining firm who requested anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media, said workers had stayed away and some mines were maintaining minimum service operations.

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Guinea is the world’s second-largest bauxite producer. Traders said alumina prices in China were trading higher due to the strike, but the impact was limited for now because of Chinese inventories of bauxite.

“This situation is untenable. Everything is at a standstill,” said another senior official of a separate mining company who also requested anonymity.

The Guinean Trade Union Movement, an umbrella group for multiple workers’ unions, announced the general strike in a statement last week, saying it would be indefinite and would include the public, private and informal sectors.

Its demands include the release of the Secretary General of the Union of Press Professionals of Guinea, Sekou Jamal Pendessa, who has been jailed, the lowering of food prices, the lifting of internet restrictions and the application of a wage deal reached with the government in November.

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“The city is completely paralysed, there’s hardly any traffic.” Conakry resident Lancinet Conde said. He appealed to the unions and the junta to resume talks.

The trade union movement said in a statement on Monday afternoon, after a meeting with religious leaders, that it will continue the strike until its demands are met.

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By The African Mirror

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