Jonglei workers demand 100% salary increment

Jonglei workers demand 100% salary increment
A picture of a person counting South Sudanese currency. Photo Credit: Courtesy.

The Workers Trade Union in Jonglei State has laid down their tools demanding implementation of the 100 per cent salary increment.

In a statement released yesterday, the Union called on all civil servants in Jonglei State to lay down tools due to what they called “denial of their civil rights.”

The union said the state government had modified the salary structure instead of implementing the 100 per cent increment declared by the President in July.

They rejected the modification and vowed not to accept any cut on their salaries.

“On the contrary to this new salary structure, the Government of Jonglei State in the letter dated 9th/12/2021, omitted the additional allowances for all civil servants despite our numerous appeals. This is unacceptable. It is for this reason that the Workers.”

“Trade Union, therefore, calls on Civil Servants in all the Government institutions to take the following actions from 10th/12/2021,” the letter read in part.

“It is important to note that we are exercising our rights and we anticipate our government to uphold and respect them especially in these trying times, Jonglei state Government should also understand that if it is still denying what is rightfully ours, we may consider demonstrations to continue demanding.”

The Union said their decision had been triggered by the inability of the government to respond positively to their call for the implementation of the President’s order.

 “We reject the modified salary structure by the state government (as) we immediately lay down our tools. These actions will go on until the state government sees the need to meet the 100% increment of civil servants salaries in accordance to new structure and the state Ministry Public Service endorsement through the new payroll.”

In response to the letter, the acting governor of Jonglei State Tuong Majok Deng who is also the State Minister of Cabinet Affairs said they had agreed that the 100% salaries would be paid any time soon because the cheques had been released.

Tuong said the salaries in question are prone to deductions since they were gross salaries and some taxes that needed to be removed for the net salaries to remain.

 “My concern as the acting governor of Jonglei state is that there are allowances which were not there in the system of Jonglei since 2005 called nature allowances. It is not there to be added to the salary, it was introduced by the new state government,” Tuong said.

“What I told them in our three meetings is that the state has no budget for it but we recognized that it has now surfaced. I asked them to allow time for the state government to discuss these allowances and we agreed for 100% to be paid and now our able Minister of Finance is giving out cheques for people to receive (salaries). Whoever will refuse to receive the salary will be up to him.”

Tuong stressed that the allowances that the Union complained of, had never existed before, so we told them to wait for the Governor and the Deputy Governor to return to be tabled to the council of ministers.

He advised the union not to incite the public about something that would be settled once the governor and his deputy return to the state.

According to a civil society activist in Jonglei State, Bol Deng Bol, the civil servants and workers trade union have all it takes to claim their right because other states had already received their salaries without hindrances.

He said the payroll which was prepared according to the pay structure from the national government was rejected by the state Ministry of Finance.

Deng said the money might have been deducted with the approval of the acting governor.

“There should be no deduction from the net salaries. The acting governor is not honest on this, if the Undersecretary is honest enough to say that the civil servants have the right to demand what they have given them at the national level, just as it is in other states, they are receiving without issues,” Bol said.

“This is what civil servants here are claiming, there is completely no justification as to why the government is cutting the allowances. Resources in Jonglei are very many in Jonglei State.”

Salary raise

President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced the increment of the salaries of the army and the civil servants during the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of independence on July 9, 2021.

Then order became effective on September 29, 2021.

However, implementing such increment has been an obstacle to tell with only a few states putting it to effect.

Roughly two weeks ago, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning disclosed that implementation of the new salary structure was already a hard nut to crack.

This was clearly stated by the First Undersecretary in the Ministry of Finance Carlo Ocum during the governors’ forum that the increment caused a 300 per cent budget stretch and warned its implementation might cause a huge financial deficit.

“I am glad that the national ministers who are here [were present] when we presented the budget (and) the tough issue was salary increase. There was a [problem) that when you try to capture this into the budget, it was really above the budget of the Republic of South Sudan,” he said.

Ocum said a proposal to put the implementation of the salary raise on hold and consider it in the subsequent financial year was quashed.

The undersecretary said they tried to put in the components of the new salary structure, which was suggested to pick the basic content, but the deficit was still weighing above the budget.

Fighting graft

The President during the swearing-in ceremony of Finance Minister Agak Achuil Lual directed him to always pay salaries of government civil servants and the organized forces without delay. He further warned him not to entertain siphoning of funds into private accounts which the president said was done by the preceding finance ministers.