Tuesday, June 07, 2016

South Sudan: University Lecturers Defy Orders to End Strike
June 06, 2016 (JUBA) - The teaching staff in South Sudan’s five public universities have defied orders by the higher education minister to end strikes over unpaid wages.

During a meeting convened at Juba University Monday, the teaching staff urged minister Peter Adwok Nyaba to withdraw his “threatening letter or resign.”

“We are going to write a very strong letter in response to this letter of the minister. He has to apologise or else we call for his resignation,” Philip Apollo, the spokesman for South Sudan Public Universities Staffs’ Association told reporters Monday.

The lecturers claim the vice chancellors were "becoming a thorn” within the teaching staffs.

“We want to include our VC [Vice Chancellor] because he is becoming a thorn to us. He is also to be notified in the letter that if he continue intimidating, we will also call for his removal,” further stressed the spokesperson for the staff association.

Minister Adwok, in a letter dated 2 June 2016, ordered the lecturers to end with immediate effect their strike or “face punitively consequences” for continued striking.

Most of the lecturers, who are earn between SSP 10,000 ($250) and SSP 17,000 ($450) say these “meagre wages” were usually not paid on time. They now say failure by the government to pay their salaries and the threats to have them dismissed from the university clearly indicates government’s insensitivity to the teaching staff welfare.

The education minister, however, denied accusations labelled by the staff against him.

“The delay is because of the current economic situation in the country. Once there is money, they will be paid and this is what I said,” Adwok told Sudan Tribune Monday.

“As for their arrears, they will be paid when the country is in position to pay people,” he added, but did not elaborate further on the matter.

South Sudan’s economy is in a crisis after conflict led to closure of oilfields and lower global oil prices. Oil revenues account for more than 98% of the country’s annual budget.

The state-owned universities of Juba, John Garang Memorial University, Rumbek, Upper Nile and Western Bahr El-Ghazal have not paid staffs for three months. The teaching lecturers have reportedly not received transport, housing and medical allowances for 10 months, prompting them to lay down their tools two weeks ago.


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