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  • OnEstEnsemble Flash Mob in Cameroon

    Today in front of Camwater company: 1000 Households were represented in the demand for a network-wide extension on their water services. On Est Ensemble, a Cameroon ACORN affiliate organized a flash mob at the local company office and through the community

    Regional management agreed to go straight in the neighborhoods with the members to assess the situation
    It was interesting to learn that with a few tips, an un authorised action can be legitimate in the eye of the army, who accompany the delegation on the field

    Regional management agreed to go straight in the neighborhoods with the members to assess the situation

  • ACORN and Alliance Citoyenne Win the Debate

    Grenoble approves wearing the burkini in public swimming pools

    Women can now swim as they wish in the swimming pools of Grenoble. After 4 years of fighting and several actions of civil disobedience, the burkini is authorized in swimming pools. The decision was adopted by the municipal council with a narrow majority of 29 votes for, 27 against, and two abstentions.

  • ACORN Leeds updates

    In Leeds, ACORN welcomed the newest local group, with the launch of ACORN Armley local group.

    Also in Leeds, there were many trainings, stalls, and door knocking sessions through April 2022. Additionally, members spoke at a Social Housing Action Campaign rally, Communication Workers Union conference, and National Education Union conference.

  • MOBILISATION VICTORIEUSE DES SAISONNIERS DE LA SOSUCAM / VICTORIOUS MOBILIZATION OF SOSUCAM SEASONAL EMPLOYEES

    FACE AU MANQUE D’EQUIPEMENTS DE PROTECTION, LES manœuvres AGRICOLES SE METTENT DE NOUEAU EN GREVE / FACED WITH THE LACK OF PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT, AGRICULTURAL WORKERS GO ON STRIKE AGAIN

    Ce 8 avril 2022, 300 planteurs de la SOSUCAM déposent leurs outils et stoppent le travail à la plantation de Mbandjock pour réclamer des EPI. Deux jours plus tard, ce sont 700 travailleurs de la plantation de Nkoteng qui se mettent en grève. La direction cède de suite à leurs demandes sous la pression.

    Au final, environ 1200 planteurs ont reçu gants, manteaux, bottes et jambières !

    Le 21mars, environ 1200 planteurs ont commencé la campagne dite de petite plante ; campagne qui va durer environ 3 mois. Ces travailleurs reçoivent habituellement leur équipement de travail dès le premier jour de travail. Ces équipements sont indispensables pour se protéger contre les coupures, les serpents, scorpion et araignées, ou les intempéries.

    « Depuis le lancement des travaux de plante, nous n’avons reçu aucun équipement de protection individuelle. Quand nous les demandons, nous recevons le mépris des superviseurs. Ça fait 3 semaines déjà et les pluies ont commencé. Nous demandons des conditions dignes de travail » Thomas, planteur.

    Une belle victoire pour ces travailleurs saisonniers précaires. Ces travailleurs s’organisent au sein du syndicat des saisonniers de la SOSUCAM pour défendre leurs intérêts et obtenir des conditions de travail plus dignes.

    On April 8, 2022, 300 SOSUCAM planters dropped their tools and stopped work at the Mbandjock plantation to claim PPE. Two days later, 700 workers from the Nkoteng plantation went on strike. Management immediately gives in to their demands under pressure.

    In the end, around 1,200 planters received gloves, coats, boots and leggings!

    On March 21, about 1,200 planters started the so-called small plant campaign; campaign which will last approximately 3 months. These workers usually receive their work equipment on the first day of work. This equipment is essential to protect against cuts, snakes, scorpions and spiders, or bad weather.

    “Since the start of the plant work, we have not received any personal protective equipment. When we ask for them, we receive scorn from the supervisors. It’s been 3 weeks already and the rains have started. We demand decent working conditions” Thomas, planter.

    A great victory for these precarious seasonal workers. These workers are organizing themselves within the SOSUCAM seasonal workers’ union to defend their interests and obtain more dignified working conditions.

  • Press Release: Southern Rural Electricity Co-Op Boards Remain Overwhelmingly White

    Lack of Diversity Silences Voices 

    NEW ORLEANS — Eighty-one years after U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal provided federal loans and grants for establishing rural membership cooperatives to connect the “last mile” and bring electricity to almost all of rural America, 800 rural co-ops deliver electricity to some forty-two million Americans. Unlike other electric providers, residential customers use 57% of cooperatives’ power.

    Rural electric cooperatives in many areas are often a significant economic presence and employers with assets and sales throughout the South of billions of dollars annually. 

    The membership (customer-owners) is supposed to be democratically represented on co-op boards. However, “Electric Cooperative Board Diversity is a Failure in the South,” concludes that co-op boards are overwhelmingly white and male despite demographics in service areas, even when those areas have significant Black or Hispanic populations.

    The report follows “The Crisis in Rural Electric Cooperatives in The South,”  an investigation of rural co-op boards in 12 southern states conducted by Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center and ACORN International five years ago in 2016.  This report measures what progress was made or, in this case, not made in that period.  In many cases, the report found that co-op boards made an effort on their public communications to hide the lack of diversity in their governance.   Wade Rathke, Chief Organizer of ACORN, noted that “Rural electric cooperatives are touted as one of the great icons of New Deal democracy, but it appears now that they have become entrenched ‘old boy clubs’ in too much of the South, out of synch with their communities, the members, and the urgent climate issues of our time.”

    “There is too much evidence of democracy lost, and discrimination found. Transparency is rare, and too many rules and procedures maintain a status quo that seems more frozen in the fifties before the civil rights and women’s rights’ movements,” investigators concluded in 2016.

    The new report finds that the population is 56% white in the 12-state region. Meanwhile, whites make up 93.1% of the boards of these states’ electricity co-ops. Co-op governance has been an issue in recent years in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Texas.

    Rural Co-op Boards lacking diversity and transparency seem to engage in a pattern of discrimination that leaves Blacks and other people of color without an opportunity to provide input on potential changes to energy sources, board elections, or employment and procurement matters. Many also remain uninformed about how the relationship between electric cooperatives and members works.

    ###

    Contact:

    C.C. Campbell-Rock

    504-930-9577

    media@chieforganizer.org

    David Thompson

    407-484-8387

    research@chieforganizer.org

  • IN THE NEWS: Victory of the Hijabeuses

    The New York Times

    April 18, 2022

    The Female Soccer Players Challenging France’s Hijab Ban By Constant Méheut

    Photographs by Monique Jaques

  • ACORN New Brunswick wins Rent Cap, Eviction Protections

    NB Tenants win year-long rent cap and eviction protection

    The announcement of temporary 3.8% rent cap and eviction protections for New Brunswick tenants is a result of relentless campaigning by NB ACORN and our allies to end the NB Housing Crisis.  

    Through organizing tenant power and taking action, NB ACORN has succeeded in forcing the Conservative government to provide a break for tenants from massive rent hikes and a constant fear of losing their home.  

    Due to ACORN’s efforts, New Brunswick tenants will not receive massive rent increases they cannot afford for at least a year.  The new eviction protections mean that it will be far less common for tenants to be forced from their homes for no reason other than the landlord wants them out. 

    While the rent cap is temporary, and the eviction protections do not appear to be as strong as they should be, both are certainly better than having no protections at all.

    Moving forward ACORN will do what it always has done: continue to build tenant power and fight for tenant law reform in NB. Tenants need affordable and healthy housing. Tenants need to be secure in their housing. ACORN will not stop organizing tenant power and fighting for housing justice until we achieve those goals.

  • HISTORIC CUTTERS STRIKE IN SOSUCAM SUGAR CANE PLANTATIONS

    FARM WORKERS BLOCK WORK IN PLANTATIONS AND FACTORIES FOR TWO WEEKS TO PROTEST AGAINST UNWORTHY WORKING CONDITIONS

    On February 23, 2022, nearly 2,000 agricultural laborers (cutters) from the Société sucrière du Cameroun (SOSUCAM) went on strike in Nkoteng to protest against the deterioration of their already precarious working conditions. The police and gendarmerie forces immediately came to disperse the crowd, using tear gas canisters. Shots were also fired and two workers were injured, in the forearm and in the thigh.  After three days on strike, the agricultural laborers at the Mbandjock plantation joined the strike in the face of management’s refusal to dialogue, paralyzing work in all the plantations and factories. From 26 February to 8 March, nearly 8,000 people were suspended from work by the strike.[1]

    The strike was triggered by requests for explanations issued the day before to 180 workers by their supervisors. These workers had used their right to refuse a task, deemed too difficult. The sanction imposed, while the supervisor is supposed to adjust the tasks to the density of canes to cut, was the last straw. Indeed, the conditions of agricultural laborers are much less advantageous than those of permanent workers (lower salary scale, lower premiums, no health coverage, etc.), and their status is very precarious (seasonal contracts), even though the work is technical and physical. An investigation report, attesting to the difficult conditions of workers at Sosucam, a subsidiary of the French group Castel, has just been published. [2]

    Despite a large-scale strike, management did not respond to the workers’ demands: on 24 February, a press release from Sosucam announced discussions with staff representatives and stated that measures would be taken, without specifying their content, and urged the workers to return to work. The workers remained united and the strike gained momentum. New promises were made by management representatives in the following days, but the general manager remained silent and absent. The strikers refused to return to work. They demanded in particular: a significant salary increase (with a base salary of 250,000 CFA francs – €380), step increases with seniority, an increase in the performance bonus, and a reduction in task objectives.

    On 1 March, Sosucam management issued a press release announcing resolutions taken in consultation with union representatives (CSAC, CSTC, USLC, CSIC, CTUC). However, no representatives of the seasonal workers, who represent nearly 90% of the workers, and 100% of the agricultural laborers, are present. The strikers, meeting every day in assemblies gathering several hundred workers, demanded a public meeting with the General Manager. He agreed and finally met with the strikers at the municipal stadium on March 3 but declared that “on issues related to wage increases and the harmonization of performance bonuses, [he] could not take a decision. The strikers refuse. “What really matters is fixed pay. The cutting bonuses, for example, are issued arbitrarily by the supervisors, we get between 1000 and 3000f for that only at the end of the month”, testifies one of the leaders of the strike. So The strike has been renewed.

    On March 6, a new official statement from management was issued, announcing in particular:

    • The cancellation of the 180 requests for explanations issued to agricultural laborers
    • The improvement of the reception of workers in the medical centers
    • The suspension of the new controversial cutting technique among agricultural laborers and the transparency (posting) of tasks and objectives
    • The increase of the cutting premium from 175fcfa to 250fcfa
    • The introduction of an end-of-campaign bonus of 15,000 CFA francs for all employees who have worked throughout the campaign
    • The recruitment of a social mediator by the labor delegate among the agricultural laborers.

    Despite measures deemed insufficient by striking workers, under pressure from traditional chiefs called upon by management, and with police and gendarmerie commando teams patrolling alongside Sosucam agents with megaphones in the neighborhoods, workers gradually returned to work on March 7 and 8. On March 9, the company was operating normally again.

    The mobilization and tenacity of the agricultural laborers made it possible to obtain concrete progress, but they decided to organize themselves solidly in order to significantly improve their working conditions, and that their demands could be carried by legitimate and democratically elected representatives, thanks to the creation of a union of seasonal workers of Sosucam.


    [1] The injured workers were taken to hospital in Yaoundé and the costs covered by Sosucam

    [2] Castel: to the health of Africa – ReAct Transnational, February 2022 – https://www.projet-react.org/fr/elementor-10135/

  • Building the We Are Together Association (#OnEstEnsemble) to Grasp Victories!

    The OnEstEnsemble association was organized on December 18, 2021, its large citizen assembly of the inhabitants of the neighborhoods where it is located. 50 people from neighborhood associations, local committees: active leaders, supporters, association leaders, neighborhood leaders, and block leaders were represented. The purpose of this assembly was to share with the participant’s information on the progress and results obtained by the Association in 2021 and to define the campaign tracks for 2022. Also, it was intended to reward with scrolls, the leaders who have distinguished themselves the most during the year.

    This meeting allowed the participants to express themselves on the problems of proximity and to formulate concrete proposals in the face of the problems encountered on a daily basis. The appointment has been made for the next citizens’ assembly in 2022.

    We are together

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/OnEstEnsembleCM
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OnEstEnsemble-1592766587434716
    YouTube Channel: OnEstEnsemble Cameroon – YouTube

  • MEETING BETWEEN THE MAYOR OF DOUALA 5 AND THE INHABITANTS OF POPULAR DISTRICTS

    CHAT BETWEEN THE MAYOR OF DOUALA 5 AND THE INHABITANTS OF POPULAR DISTRICTS

    Last Wednesday, November 23, 2021 at 2 p.m., in the Bepanda Yonyong district, the citizen dialogue between the Mayor of the district municipality of Douala 5 and its inhabitants was held.
    The purpose of this consultation was to encourage the taking into account of the real needs of the inhabitants, on the development projects of the town hall, taking into account the reality on the ground and citizen monitoring of the works.
    The Mayor of Douala 5, absent for mission, was represented by his municipal development officer, Mr. NGONGA Raoul Stéphane.
    This citizens’ talk enabled residents to communicate on their priority concerns, particularly on the themes of access to drinking water, education, roads, the environment, public lighting and safety …
    Mr. NGONGA lent himself to the question / answer game and communicated on the development projects of the town hall of Douala 5 for the year 2022.
    The residents left the chat enriched and the appointment has been made for next year with the citizen consultations that will take place in each neighborhood.

    together we are stronger

    together

  • FLASHMOB TO DECLARE THE LACK OF WATER IN PRECARIOUS DISTRICTS

    In Douala, the absence of water in the neighborhoods irritated the inhabitants who decided to block the main entrance to the Camwater general management (public water distribution company), through a flashmob, choreography to denounce the absence communication from the Director of the company.

    Tuesday morning November 23, 2021 at 9 am, twenty men and women with empty water bottles from the Bepanda petit Wouri, Makepe 1 Missoke and Maturity neighborhoods made a “flashmob”, punctuated by an artistic choreography in front of the management General of Camwater to proclaim their dissatisfaction due to the silence on the level of progress of the project to extend the water network in the neighborhoods.
    Indeed, many households are not connected to the urban water network, and have to travel long distances to obtain water from the boreholes or tanks available. Several of them want to connect to the Camwater network, and pay the bills due each month, but they explain that the main network is very far from their homes.

    It should be remembered in November and December 2019, Mr. BALEBA (Camwater Deido Technical Manager) carried out the footage in 3 of the districts concerned (220, 1200 and 1400 meters of extension respectively for Cacao Barry, Bepanda Petit Wouri and Makepe 1 Missoke) , and indicated having sent his report and the maps to his superiors. Long after several reminders, an official from the regional office noted that the files no longer exist in the Camwater database.

    In February 2021, a delegation of members of the association again challenged the Regional Director. On March 10, 2021, the same route in terms of footage was redone in the districts identified by 02 camwater agents under the supervision of Mr. FASSU (regional technical assistant), contact person designated by the Regional Director to carry out the follow-up. After several reminders, he told us that “the file was directed to the infrastructure management, which never contacted the association to indicate the level of progress of the project”.

    The mobilized residents thus hope to realize the urgency of the situation so that the general manager of Camwater makes commitments by giving the level of progress of the extension project in the neighborhoods and subsequently facilitating the household connection procedure.
    Following this mobilization, the spokespersons of the association were received by the private secretary of DG Camwater accompanied by the Directors, regional and Communication, then a descent to the Makepe 1 Missoke district followed to make it possible to touch the finger the reality on the ground.
    The commitments made in the field are as follows:

    • The water network extension project will begin in 2022 in the districts and a timetable will be established to follow up on consultation with the CEO;
    • The connection procedure will be facilitated in order to allow households to connect at a reasonable cost;
    • Any connections not made will be reestablished within ten days maximum.

    We are together

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/OnEstEnsembleCM
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OnEstEnsemble-1592766587434716
    YouTube channel: OnEstEnsemble Cameroon – YouTube


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