BUSINESS GROUND to a halt in Benin, West Africa, on Tuesday of last week as the country’s main trade unions began a three-day strike to demand higher pay for government employees.
They were also striking for better pensions and lower university tuition fees.
Only senior managers turned up for work at government offices, schools and banks, and most businesses were closed in the economic capital, Cotonou.
The city’s normally busy streets were empty of traffic.
Music replaced normal programming on government-run radio and television stations.
Instead, they repeatedly played the song “Le pays va mal” (“The country is doing badly”) by the Ivorian singer Tiken Jah Facoly.
The strike was called by four of Benin’s five trade union organisations to support civil service workers’ pay demands.
Guillaume Attigbe, a leader of the Confederation of Autonomous Unions, accused the government of President Mathieu Kerekou of treating the workers’ demands “lightly and with disdain”.
Benin, which has a population of around seven million, borders Nigeria, which was itself the scene of a recent mass strike.