Hundreds of local employees of the United Nations mission in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) staged a demonstration on Thursday in Abidjan and Bouake to demand compensation for the non-renewal of their contracts ahead of the end of the mission in June 2017.
In the capital Abidjan, between 200 and 300 people, dressed in black, blocked the main entrance of the headquarters of UNOCI carrying a large banner that read: “We agree to the departure of UNOCI … but pay our allowances!”, AFP reports.
In Bouake, the second largest city in the country, dozens of protesters had stopped working and locked themselves behind a gate at the entrance of the office, according to AFP’s correspondent in the city.
The rules governing the staff concerning the non-renewal of contracts with UNOCI is a subject of manipulation to create the impression that the dismissal entitles them to severance benefits.
“We demand the payment of compensation to 713 Ivorians working with the UNOCI due to the permanent closure of the mission,” Olivier Gnaore, president of the Association of Locally Recruited UNOCI Staff, told AFP.
The spokesperson for the strikers in Bouake, William Dion, also said “by signing our contract, we knew that the mission would end one day. But to end the mission, they must absorb our debts and enforce the contracts.”
Reacting to their demands, the spokesperson of UNOCI, Kadia Ledron, said in a statement that “the payment of such compensation is not part of the staff conditions of service as stipulated in the contract.”
The statement noted that “the rules governing the staff concerning the non-renewal of contracts with UNOCI is a subject of manipulation and false information to create the impression that the dismissal entitles them to severance benefits.”
The United Nations mission in Ivory Coast (UNOCI) has been in Ivory Coast since the beginning of the political and military crisis in the early 2000s. With a slow withdrawal, the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon announced its end in April due to the positive climate in the country.