Congo Republic oil workers plan hunger strike and work stoppages next week

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BRAZZAVILLE, June 24 (Reuters) - Oil sector workers in Congo Republic will go on a hunger strike starting on Monday over low pay and other demands that have been unmet by the government, the workers' union said.

A second phase of the strike starting June 29 will involve stopping work at all offices and industrial bases in Pointe-Noire, while the hunger strike continues at refineries, oil terminals, onshore and offshore bases, said the statement dated June 22 and seen by Reuters on Friday.

The workers are asking for their salaries to be adjusted to inflation and for employees at companies that were forced to shut during the pandemic to be paid compensation, union leader Jean Claude Tchibinda told Reuters.

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"Our aim is to continue until our demands are satisfied," he said, claiming salaries had not been increased since 2019.

Another union leader, Didier Mabiala, said the government had done nothing to meet demands since a last strike that was suspended in October 2018.

Authorities did not respond to calls.

The unions sent letters to major oil companies such as ENI (ENI.MI) and TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA), which have operations in Congo Republic, to inform them of the planned strike action.

Total and Eni did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Congo Republic, an OPEC member that produces around 300,000 barrels per day, lowered oil and gas royalty rates in 2016 to encourage investment in new exploration.

The oil sector accounts for more than half the West African country's gross domestic product and over 80% of exports, according to the World Bank. But most of its 5.7 million inhabitants have not reaped the benefits of major investments in the industry.

More than half the population lives in extreme poverty and was hit hard by a 3.4% rise in food prices last year.

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Reporting by Aaron Ross and Bate Felix; additional reporting by Christian Elion in Brazzaville Writing by Nellie Peyton and Sofia Christensen Editing by James Macharia Chege, Elaine Hardcastle

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