Ecological guards (eco-guards) in Gabon have given notice of their intention to go on strike from July 6, 2020, over the non-payment of their salaries since April. The notice was handed over to the Executive Secretary of the National Agency of National Parks – Agence Nationale des Parcs Nationaux (ANPN).
“We, the collectivity of eco-guards within the network of thirteen national parks of Gabon, inform our hierarchy, the National Agency of National Parks that we would observe a general strike as from 7.30 a.m. on Monday, July 6, 2020, by picketing at the head office of the Executive Secretariat of ANPN situated in Rapac for the agents of Estuary and at the head offices and directorates of the national parks for agents within the country,” the group said in the notice to the ANPN executive secretary.
An eco-guards source who refused to be identified told HumAngle in Libreville, the Gabonese capital, on Sunday that they decided on the strike following over 10 years of “chaotic management marked by bizarre decisions, approximate actions and waste at the National Agency of National Parks”.
Besides the issue of salary arrears, the ANPN, which is the national outfit that manages Gabon’s engagements on the protection of biodiversity, also owes the National Social Security Fund billions of francs CFA in unpaid subscriptions thus exposing the workers to performing their duties without social insurance cover.
“As it stands now, should any of us be involved in an accident or any other misfortune (situation) in the exercise of our duties, we would not be covered by any insurance and should this lead to death, the families we leave behind would be exposed to untold hardship,” another guard said.
“The most troubling part of it all is that this has been going on for several years now and our cries and appeals to the relevant government authorities have always fallen on deaf ears. The last resort we have is to go on strike and come July 6, if nothing is done to remedy the situation, we would surely stop work,”, said an eco-guard representative.