Civil servants protest over low salary in Jonglei

By Deng Ghai Deng

Civil servants in the Jonglei State capital Bor took to the streets on Monday to hold a public demonstration to protest against what they said was a failure by the state government to fully implement the new salary structure announced by the National Ministry of Labor and Public Service.

In Jonglei, civil servants began their strike last week when they refused to turn up for work. The protesters blocked roads and put barricades along the main roads leading to the Bor airstrip, river port, Marol market and governor’s office.

The protesters carried banners, with writings such as stop corruption.

Teacher Peter Mayen Agany, from Malek secondary school, said he resorted to joining the public demonstrations because he was frustrated by what he called in his words “mistreatment by corrupt government officials.

“We need our money to be given to us today.  We need to be paid as teachers and all the other workers from the government’s institutions in Jonglei state. Nobody can deny that. We heard that they say our complaints are baseless. It’s not baseless; we have confidence in credit advice,” Agany said

At the same time, Protester Ayuen Loch from the Jonglei state Ministry of Agriculture said he too has been disappointed and he was in the street to demand his full payment according to the new salary structure.

“We are protesting against the mismanagement of public resources in Jonglei state. We marched to the finance office to demand our rights as civil servants of Jonglei state. The government of Jonglei state must take immediate action right away from the 13th of this day. And call on the national government to intervene in this process,” Loch said

Toung Majok, the Jonglei State Acting Governor said his office noticed the civil servants concerns and has resolved that all their demands be addressed in order to restore the situation to normalcy.

“The government is committed to writing a letter in order to convince them. Now we have written a letter and they will be given a copy for them to uplift the strike.  We also agreed that their salaries are to be received as from now if they received their cheques.  As per this agreement, I think there will be nothing more to happen and we are expecting relevant calm in the town.” Majok said 

 Samuel Majier Loch, the Secretary-General of the Workers’ Union in Jonglei state said requested the government to put the agreement in writing. He added that if they got the letter, they would call a meeting and maybe, they were going to resolve to call the strike off.

Some security organ generals including the police and national security service were seen assaulting and harassing protesters and journalists covering the event. 

However, Major General Joseph Mayen Akoon, the Jonglei State Police commissioner, admitted that he was aware of some protesters who were assaulted by some security officers.

Akoon apologized and vowed to reorient police officers in order respect peaceful protests.

“I condemn it, it’s not good. We the police are the one to stop violence not to create it. I heard that some teachers were beaten, I am very sorry for that. They are civilians and they were not coming with violence,” Akoon said.

The protesters called on the Governor Denay Jock Chagor to resign saying he has done little to protect civil servants such as teachers and that corruption has flourished in his administration. 

They said teachers in the villages lived in fear because of widespread insecurity as two of their colleagues riding on a bike to give lesson in Anyidi payam were waylaid and murdered in cold blood last month. 

Recent reports by Transparency International ranked South Sudan second world’s most corrupt nation.

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