By Taban Henry
Government workers in South Sudan’s Transitional National Legislative Assembly went on a sit-down strike over unpaid salaries, a Member of Parliament said yesterday.
One of the law makers representing Cueibet County of Lakes State told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper in a telephone interview.
The MP who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the civil servants working in the parliament have laid their tools and left parliamentary offices closed.
The legislator said that civil servants have not been paid for a period of five to six (5-6) months. He stated that the parliamentarians have seen their employees getting out as they scattered in different directions with8in the premises of the Parliament.
He stated that civil servants have been negotiating with the parliament but the leadership did not attend to their grievances.
“Last Friday the civil servants issued a warning to the leadership of the parliament that if they are not paid they will go on a sit down strike, they will lock the offices and they will not allow anybody to work,” the lawmaker said.
The MP stated that the deputy speaker for Admin and Finance asked parliamentarians what might have stirred up the employees in the Parliament to lay down their tools and sit out of their offices.
The parliamentarian stated that, on the response to question asked by the deputy speaker, MPs who were close to him said, it was a right; workers have rights to be paid as they cannot work for free.
“The deputy speaker plus other members of parliament called on the police to come to the premises of the parliament. The parliament is (was) filled up with almost five vehicles full of police officers. So the police are everywhere and the MPs are stranded and standing around trees,” he stated.
Suspension of parliamentary sitting
Further, the MP said members of parliament are supposed to have a sitting and discuss on the bill of wildlife service on Monday, but was halted as the staff have gone for strike.
The law maker stated that police were called to control the situation but in stated worsened the situation.
He said, it is still not clear on what might happen adding that there has been lot of confusion in the parliament as police were everywhere.
“The MPs including the civil servants are walking up and down. Clearly I don’t see any intention of violence but the situation is worsened by the presence of the police. If the situation continues the civil servants will be forces to go on real strike, they cannot be blamed. The problem is last week 200 million SSP has been issued to the parliament and nobody has known how the leadership of the parliament has allocated it. The civil servants are supposed to be paid,” the lawmaker stressed.
According to the MP, the speaker is not around as she traveled to Uganda.
“She can’t go without money, the clerk and his team went to Tanzania and the civil servants are not been paid,” he said.
Similarly, he stated that the strike of civil servants has affected the work of the parliament.
The lawmaker has called on the people to understand that Members of Parliament are working hard to make sure that such problem be corrected to show that the MPs are concerned of their welfare.
He said they have raised several motions concerning insecurity in different parts of the country, adding that the problem can be solved peacefully.
However, information from other sources indicated that the striking staff had called of their strike and had resumed work.