Workers at Mali's state cotton company (CMDT) have extended strike action over unpaid wages to boycotting the collection of cotton for the 2001/02 season, the workers' union said on Tuesday. CMDT workers had initially said on October 12 they would not start ginning cotton until outstanding wages worth 1.3 billion CFA francs ($1.8 million) were repaid.
"The administration continues to ignore our claims so we have decided to maintain and even strengthen our calls for a boycott," Abbas Sylla, head of the workers' union, said.
"Workers are not ready to start ginning cotton, not even to collect it unless they get their outstanding wages."
Mali is the biggest cotton producer in West Africa with expected output of at least 575,074 tonnes, up from a disastrous 240,000 tonnes last year. The region as a whole produces 15 percent of world cotton exports.
"We know that we are dealing with an expected record output of 600,000 tonnes. This is a first, a real challenge, particularly in the current state of our industry," he said.
"We are ready to rise to the challenge if our rights are respected and we have the right motivation to start the season."
According to the union chief, a boycott would be harmful for the state cotton company, as well producers. Extended ginning would lead to a longer season and leave the quality of the cotton at risk of being damaged by poor weather.
October 31, 2001
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