Africa

Congo port workers clash with police over unpaid wages

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KINSHASA, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Hundreds of workers from Democratic Republic of Congo's state-owned ports company stormed its headquarters on Friday, breaking windows, burning furniture and clashing with police over what they say are more than three years of unpaid wages.

The police fired cans of tear gas into the building in the capital Kinshasa as the workers from the Commercial Society of Ports and Transports (SCPT) danced around a pile of burning furniture on the front steps and threw rocks at the officers.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was injured in the clashes.

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The workers have been on strike since Oct. 15. They say the government owes the firm $207 million, and that they have not been paid in more than three years.

"The finance minister is blocking our claim while the workers suffer," said Papy Dimoke, a union leader. "We have more than 38 months of arrears which we have not been paid."

Neither Congo's finance ministry nor SCPT could be immediately reached for comment.

Schoolteachers are also on strike in Congo over salaries, bonus pay and the retirement age. On Thursday, hundreds of children stormed the national parliament to demand a resolution to the strike. read more

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Reporting by Benoit Nyema and Hereward Holland; writing by Cooper Inveen; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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