Jonglei gov’t makes a U-turn on pay cut after bruising protests

Denay Jock Chagor, Governor of Jonglei State

By Deng Ghai Deng

Jonglei State Government has reversed its earlier decision to cut part of the salary of civil servants to pay for security services after the move was fiercely contested by the state employees who clashed with security leading to the injury of 9 protestors on Wednesday.

The state minister of Information, Minister Veronica William Deng told the media in the state capital, Bor,that the decision to reverse the order of the State Governor Denay Jock Jonglei was reached during the meeting of the state cabinet chaired by MrChagoryesterday.

Ms Deng explained that the change of the unwelcomed policy was made to appease the estranged civil servants and avoid further disruptive demonstration.

“We, as the government of Jonglei State, have met in order to decide how to resolve the problem of the demonstrations.  We decided that these people are given their money so that the demonstrations stop. That is what was resolved in a meeting. We as the current government came to work for our people so they deserve to be given their rights—it’s their right to receive their allowances,” she said.

The state governor had in his order dated January 31, 2022, directed the state minister of finance to deduct allowances from salaries of state civil servants to be used for the facilitation of security forces providing security.

Ms Deng said the decision of the state cabinet resolved that the state employees be given their full salary with all allowances in accordance with the new pay structure based on the 100 percent salary increment as announced by President Salva Kiir Mayardit in his speech on 9th July, 2021.

Minister Deng called on the protesting civil servants to call off their strike now that the government agreed to their demands.    

“My message to the civil servants is that, we as the people and government of Jonglei must hold hands to work together so that we uplift our state.  We don’t want to have any problem in our state—and we as the government will stand with you,” Deng added.

Peter BiorMabat, teachers’ representative in the Jonglei State Workers’ Trade Union, said that the government has yet to communicate them about the decision.

Mabathowever welcomed the decision by the state council of ministers to reverse the governor’s order on deduction of allowances but said he could not trust the state officials saying they had made similar pledges during past protests but later dishonored them.

“What has been done by the state council of ministers is still to be received by the Workers Trade union officially as a document. However, it’s not a prerogative of the state government to re-discuss it simply because the presidential order that increased the salaries by 100 percent is not a subject for pre-discussion or to be unilaterally decided by the state governor to reverse, interfere or alter a decision taken by the president of the republic.

“That’s why the civil servants went on the streets on Wednesday protesting against the decision of the governor. There is a Jurisdictional limit when we talk of government policies and principles of government — he has to act in his jurisdiction — he should not reverse any decision taken by the president of the republic and national council of ministers,” Mabat said.

Mabatsaid the civil servants would resume on demonstration on Monday if the Jonglei government gives them a reason to believe their decision to pay the civil servants will stand.

Mabat stressed that teachers might not supervise Primary 8 national examinations on Monday if the state officials did not act on their promises.

Hundreds of angry civil servants marched to the office of MrChagor to demand cancelation of his order redirecting their allowances to address security-related matters when clashes broke out as guards at state secretariat tried to keep the protestors away.

The guards opened fire in what the state information has described as ‘self-defense’ leading to the injury of nine protestors including at least three who sustained critical injuries according to doctors at the state hospital.

In December, a committee tasked by President Salva Kiir to investigate the root causes of the civil unrest in Bor, ordered the state government to pay public servants according to the new salary structure.

The intervention came following days of protests that stalled operations at the state secretariat disgruntled civil servants shut offices over lack of implementation of the new pay structure.

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