National, News

University staff strike over payment

By Philip Buda Ladu and Yang Ater Yang


Lecturers and non-academic staff at the University of Rumbek for Science and Technology have begun a sit-down strike demanding payment of eight months’ salary arrears, air tickets, and medical allowance.

The protestors promised never to resume work unless their arrears were paid.

A peaceful demonstration was witnessed in Rumbek town on Tuesday, July 2, 2024, organized under the auspices of the Rumbek University of Science and Technology Academic Staff Association (RUSTASA).

They march while holding placards bearing messages such as “Stop rampant corruption; it erodes our resources; all these resources belong to us; pay all civil servants, etc.”

Dut Majok Kuruai chairperson of Rumbek University for Science and Technology Non-Academic Staff Association confirmed to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper via phone from Rumbek that they have started a sit-down strike with peaceful demonstrations on Tuesday.

“We made it as a peaceful demonstration. We went out from the promises and informed the government about the eight months salary arrears that have not been paid for all along and asked sitting and medical allowance for two years” he told this outlet.

Majok said they resolved to strike and if the government is serious it should ready come out and pay them to return to work, stating “let the government pay us from today and if there is no payment then we will continue with our peaceful demonstration until the government pay us.”

“We have been patient for eight months, our children are left out of school, we have no food at home and this is the only work that we’re doing and we are not being paid. So today we have decided to lay down all the tools and we demonstrate against the government to pay us” Majok emphasized.

He recalled that the last time they also went on a peaceful strike, the government convinced them to return to work after unveiling two months’ salaries but since then things haven’t changed for the better.

Students at Rumbek University are currently on vacation and were supposed to come for registration this month to resume lectures.

That is going to be interrupted by the sit-down strike unless the government clear the dues of the teaching and non-teaching staff of the university.

Majok insists that if the government put education as the number one priority in the country, they will still have to bring the salary arrears despite the closure of the financial year claiming that some of the officials just “stolen this money and they hide it”.

“They will bring it first because there is no man that can disappear. You cannot even close the house while someone has his/her properties inside, you must open it and then give what is there inside. For us we’re ready to demand them and that’s why we put demands because this money disappeared with them and we pressure them to bring the money” he echoed.

He reiterated that what will convince them to return to work is only money on the table or in their bank account

Emmanuel Rundial, an academic staff, stated that “we are making our demand that it is our right as civil servants working with the government to be paid our salaries. We have gone eight months without receiving our salaries.”

“We the academic staff are very important in this country because we produce human resources every day. So, we are calling upon our government to give us our salaries. This is our demand and we are not demanding what does not belong to us,” he said.

Moses Kueng Imu, a member of the university’s academic staff, said they had spent the entire last year and the first six months of 2024 without receiving their full salaries, a total of eight months.

He said the delay has caused a lot of hardships to their families, with their children lacking food and medical treatment, and the university lacking essential medicines.

“Even the students here in Rumbek University study without medicine. I don’t know why this university is called university”, he said. “We need our salaries and also need medicines in the University of Rumbek.”

Another lecturer, Garnop Makur, expressed frustration with the government’s failure to uphold its contractual obligations.

“We have a social contract with the government, and after the end of every month, we are supposed to be given our money. Now, we have been patient, waiting for our government to pay since last year in 2023 up to this day,” he said.

“We have children and some of us have rented houses. Now we are being chased away. Our children are sick and need medical attention, but we don’t have the money to send them to school or to the hospital,” he said.

He went on to say that the current situation has forced them to take to the streets.

“If the government doesn’t pay us our salaries immediately, we will continue to protest on the streets, demanding our rights.”

This protest comes a day after the Ministry of Finance suspended all government spending until the new financial year budget for 2024-2025 is passed.

The first undersecretary, Malual Tap Dieu, stated that the ministry won’t process new payment requests until the budget is reviewed and approved by the national parliament.

However, the 2024–25 fiscal budget is yet to be tabled at the Council of Ministers before proceeding to parliament.

This further complicates the situation for the striking lecturers.

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