Iba Der Thiam, "La grève des cheminots du Senegal,
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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Thiam's study of the 1938 railroad strike concludes that the auxiliary workers formed an underclass that broke with the union led by Francois Gning, a member of the Cadre Commun Supérieur.
(p1) The introduction mentions some references on African union activity:
(p2) Thiam stressed the important role of the Senegalese working class and the town of Thiès, an industrial city that was created in the first half of the 20th century.
According to correspondance with an unnamed Malian railroad worker, the 1938 strike did not reach the Soudan.
There was a 48-hour strike on the Chemin de Fer Dakar-St. Louis in 1925.
(pp41-51) This section describes the salaries for all classes of European and African workers. It includes a description of the cadres of the Chemin de Fer.
(p52) This thesis includes a list of prices in Dakar on March 15, 1936 used to calculate the cost-of-living for railroad workers. They were obtained from Bulletin Mensuel de l'Agence Économique de l'AOF, n°187 de Juillet 1936, p233.
|Imported rice||62.5||100 kilograms|
Salt cost 1,000 francs/ton in 1938.
(p53) Lodging for a single man cost 50-55 francs. This included 2 meals a day, but it is not clear what time period this covered (probably a week).
(p54) In 1929, the "Association Amicale et Professionelle des Agents indigènes du Chemin de Fer de l'AOF - Senegal" (AAP) was founded in imitation of a similar European group. It represented all Africans regardless of cadre.
(p55) Power within the AAP was evenly distributed between the auxiliaries, who had the numbers to exert pressure, and the cadres, who had the skills and prestige to negotiate with the white railroad administration.
(p56) Although African labor unions were illegal, François Gning was a member of the Socialist party and the Popular Front government chose to ignore his activities.
(p61) At the June 19, 1938 meeting of the Assemblée Générale du Syndicat, the members elected a Comité Directeur composed entirely of members of the cadre. This was the beginning of the schism in African railroad worker movement.
(p68) In 1937, the Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger workshops were established at Thiès. Some Africans interpreted this as a plot on the part of the Chemin de Fer administration to remove railroad workers from Dakar and isolate them.
(p79) This was the system used to classify railroad stations: 1) halte: staffed by a single agent. 2) petite gare: chef de gare et 1 facteur. 3) gare moyenne: chef de gare, 2 facteurs et 2 aiguilleurs. 4) grande gare: chef de gare, sous- chef de gare, services de grande vitesse et petite vitesse, service de securité.
(p86) On September 15, 1938, Fourgonnier auxiliaire Diack was transferred from Thiès to Gossas.
(p88) Francois Gning's leadership was threatened when the journaliers rallied to support M. Cheikh Diack. Gning benefitted from the administration decision to transfer Diack.
(p90) On September 20, 1938, the Association Amicale et Professionale des Agents auxiliaires du Dakar-Niger was founded.
(p95) On September 27, 1938, the strike began.
(p97) The strikers had the support of Galandou Diouf and his party, represented by Manekh Seck, who acted as liasion through Alassane Diène.
(p102) Galandou Diouf broke with Blaise Diagne in 1928. Diagne died on May 11, 1934.
(p123) François Gning was born in Libreville from a Senegalese father and Gabonese mother, so he spoke both Wolof and Gabonese. He was 18 when he began to work for the Chemin de Fer Dakar-Niger. He began to lead the Association Amicale in 1928. He was married to a woman from Gorée.
The Cité Ballabey was located on the site of the former "village Bambara." See Tome II for maps #2b and #6 of Thiès in 1910 and 1940.
(p139) There was confusion about the number of people hurt in the strike. In the shooting at Thiès, six were killed and 82 injured, including 5 police.
(p140) Other sources reported that there were six dead and 90 injured, including 47 law officers. 29 other strikers were slightly injured, but they'd feared reprisals if they reported their injuries, so they returned to work before reporting their injuries. As a result, the official report on the strike reported 125 victims.
(p204) Results of the strike: strikers were not punished. The railroad administration allowed the Association Amicale to remain in existence. Families of the victims received payments from the administraiton. Worker grievances were taken under consideration. [see "Paris-Dakar" n°810 (October 1, 1938).]
(p206) Work resumed on the railroad on September 30, 1938.
(p212) In France, opponents of the Popular Front blamed the Gouverneur Général de l'AOF Marcel de Coppet for leniency that encouraged the strikers.
(p217) The Mission d'Enquête Gaston Joseph recommended that De Coppet be transferred. He was temporarily replaced by Pierre Boisson. The Gouverneur du Sénégal Lefebvre was replaced by Parisot, the former governor of Gabon.
(p223) Marcel De Coppet was the first Gouverneur Général to assist black Africans. [see the speech by Paul Vidar, mayor of Saint Louis, in Compte-Rendu de Réunion Politique fait par le police (October 20, 1938, in AOF K 1 (1).]
(p231) Despite the administration's promises, 23 strikers went to trial on November 16, 1938.
(p232) By December 14, 1938, 43 people were convicted of strike activity. By April 15, 1939, the number rose to 71. [see "Un fete chez les cheminots" in Le Périscope Africain, n°391 (January 22, 1939).]