Public Universities threaten to strike over delay of salary arrears

By Aweye Teddy Onam

The public Universities which comprise the University of Juba, the University of Upper Nile and University of Bahr-el Ghazal have threatened to go for industrial action over the delay in payment of their fairly improved salary structure.

In a statement released on Tuesday and seen by No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, the University of Juba Deans’ board meeting, passed a resolution No. 3/2023 to cement the move to down their tools if their demand is not met.

The decision to go for the sit-down strike which will be effective on April 10th, 2023, came after the universities said the Ministry of Finance and Planning failed to pay two months salaries of February and March 2023 using the adjusted salary structure for public Universities’ lecturers.

“In its extraordinary meeting No. 3-2023 of April, the Deans Board in light of the delayed payment of adjusted salaries to public Universities for the months of February and March 2023, and taking into consideration the hardship situation entails for the staff of public universities and their families given that the staff of the other four public Universities have notified the public about taking an industrial action by 10th April,” reads part of the statement released by the University of Juba.

The University of Juba’s deans meeting has accused the Ministry of Finance of violating the resolution passed by the council of ministers which had approved the adjustment of the salary structure of the public universities.

“In light as demonstrated by non- compliance by the Ministry of Finance and planning to implement the Council of Ministers’ Resolution No. 12/2023 regarding the payment of Adjusted Salary Structure for Academic and Non-academic staff of public institutions of Higher Learning; and in light of all aforementioned reasons, and in solidarity with the  staff of the other public universities, the Deans’ Board advise the administration of the University of Juba to suspend all teaching if the Ministry of Finance and Planning fails to pay the salaries for the months of February and March 2023 by April 10th based on the adjusted Unified Salary Structure for Public Institutions of Higher Learning,” the resolution stated.

In addition to that, the Upper Nile University Academic Staff Association in a statement dated March, 30th 2023, addressed to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, the academic association also called on the government to intervene in order to settle the issue of the salaries and arrears which was approved in 2019 for the fiscal year 2019/2021-2021/2022.

However, the academic staff association in their letter further warned that failure to meet the demand will result in a strike on the 10th of April, 2023.

“Upper Nile University Academic Staff Association have observed that there is a delay in the payment for the salaries that means two months without salaries, please consider our suffering due to the delay of the payment of the salaries,” reads part of the statement signed by Dr. Pio Kur Deng, the chairperson of the academic association.

“Further failure by the government to pay these salaries and ticket allowances will lead to the indefinite industrial action which will start from Monday 10th April, 2023,” Upper Nile University Academic Staff Association warned.

In another letter dated the 30th March, 2023, also addressed to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the University of Bahr-el Ghazal’ workers trade union demanded for the payment of two months’ adjusted salary structure based on the approval of the council of ministers on the 22nd January 2023.

“The University of Bahr-el Ghazal general assembly conducted the meeting, and came out with the resolutions; immediate payment of two months new adjusted salary structure based on council of ministers sitting No: 3/2023 dated 22 January 2022 from February 2023. Tickets and medical allowances arrears payment starting from July 2019-July 2022 fiscal year,” University of Bahr-el Ghazal workers trade union stated in a statement.

However, the University threatened to strike as of yesterday if the Minister of Finance fails to fulfill the resolution passed by the council of ministers. But it is unclear if the strike kicked off.

“If the minister of finance and planning fails to implement the resolutions of the council of ministers’ order, therefore, the trade union of the University of Bahr-el Ghazal will go on strike 5/4/2023”.

Martin Maluk, a fourth-year law student at the University of Juba said the move to strike poses a hurdle for both senior and new students at the campus.

“It is a challenge not only as final year students but also the lower classes, however I see the dean’s resolution is in place and it is the right decision…. if you work for the government, it means you have a contract and then if the government fails to pay your salary, then you take another step,” said Maluk in an interview with No. 1 Citizen Daily newspaper yesterday.

On the other hand, a second year medical student at the University of Upper Nile who preferred not to be named said the lecturers have rights to go on strike because they too have responsibility.

“There is no problem with the lecturers because they are demanding for their rights like you as a person that has a lot of responsibilities and delivering actual services to the nation then in the end you don’t receive what you expect to achieve, it will become hard for you to manage some of your responsibilities,” he said.

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