Classes were cancelled all across Niger March 14 and health centers were functioning at a minimum after unions called for workers to go on strike for 72 hours to demand higher salaries. “Living conditions must improve now,” said Chamsou Issaka, a spokesman for one of the teachers’ unions, which are seeking to improve salaries and benefits for 24,000 teachers who work on contracts rather than as permanent civil servants as do 4,000 others. Contract teachers, students and health workers frequently go on strike in Niger, a vast, arid country with few resources. (IRIN)

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