Strike looms as teachers dispute remuneration formula
Disagreement over the new salary structure has resulted in the looming strike in Central Equatoria State, with teachers giving the government until Wednesday, December 23, to resolve the matter.
The teachers said evidence revealed that the national ministry of finance had approved the new salary structure including the nature of work allowance, but the state government omitted it, hence, contradicting President Salva Kiir’s directive.
The Secretary-General of Teachers’ Union in Central Equatoria, Justin Walak Thomas, said when the state government received the approval from the national ministry of finance, the state director general wrote to the ministry of public service to fully implement the order, but the state ministry of finance omitted the ‘nature of work allowances’.
Walak alleged that before the new salary structure, the government of Central Equatoria was getting SSP 111 million but this year the national ministry of finance released SSP 294, 669, 000 inclusive of the allowances to the state.
“On top of this, they instructed the ministry of public service to make sure that they implement a new salary structure including the general allowances,” Walak said.
Walak added: “If they pay all the government employees using the new salary structure, cash requirements will be to SSP194 million. So they have still excess of more than one million, this is our difference.”
Walak was speaking to the City Review on phone on Wednesday evening.
Efforts to reach the Central Equatoria Ministry of Finance for comment were unsuccessful as several phone calls went unanswered.
However, Dr Andruga Mabe, the State Minister of Information, confirmed the omission of the said allowances from the new salary scale saying his government has its best to implement the president’s July directive.
“When we increased, it was only minus one column that is the nature of work. We had several columns indicating the same salary to be paid and salary as a whole is the total of the columns.
“We started by doubling the existing salary but we did not implement that part which is ‘nature of the work’ according to what we have in our budget scale,” Dr Mabe said.
According to Dr Mabe, there was no ground for teachers to go on strike because the government has doubled the salaries of its employees.
“Some people here only want to go on strike but they should know what the reason is for this and so on. Our state has done its best by moving ahead doubling the salary structure. By then if you were getting SSP8000, we multiply by two and now we have already paid to our employees in Central Equatoria State,” he said.
The matter has become a national issue in the country. In Jonglei State, the workers’ trade union has rejected the new salary without the addition of the nature of work allowances.
“We, the citizens of the state have also realised that all the state constitutional post holders and DGs increased their salaries and all the allowances without National Resolution or even a State Legislative Assembly, where the minimum payment is SSP 180, 000,” the statement read.
“Therefore, the state Worker’s Trade Union would like to declare the continuation of strike and public demonstration until our demands are met,” Jonglei State Worker Trade Union said on Friday last week.
In Eastern Equatoria State, the government took a proactive measure to prevent the strike, especially among the teachers by appealing to them to desist from striking given the general economic situation in the country.
Over the weekend, Governor Louis Lobong Lojore brought together teachers to discuss the achievements, challenges, and way forward as 2021 draws to an end. In his keynote address at the function, the governor appreciated teachers for good performance in the secondary school examination this year with only 20 out of over 2000 students failing the exams.
“That is the reason why the governor has called the teachers [because] we don’t expect that one to happen in Torit,” the State Minister of Information, Patrick Otim told the City Review on Sunday.
Otim added, “When the governor was talking he knows the situation that the teachers are going through, not only teachers but all the civil servants, the little they are getting is not meeting their needs. The governor’s point was: if [teachers] were able to endure all these times, why don’t [they] endure waiting for the year  to come when things become better.”