South Sudan varsity lecturers on pay strike By MACHEL AMOS in Juba | Monday, October 7  2013 at  17:59

On the streets of Juba where university lecturers have launched a strike against austerity measures that have cut their pay by more than 50 per cent. MWENDA wa MICHENI.| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Academic staff in South Sudan public universities have gone on strike to protest against the reduction of their pay by more than 50 per cent.

There was no learning on Monday at the University of Juba, the country’s oldest and biggest.

The cuts, for example, reduce the gross salary of a professor (the highest paid) from about $2,700 to about $1,150, the staff said in a statement.

It also reduces the gross salary of a teaching assistant (the least paid) from about $870 to about $500, the statement added.

A circular from the Labour and Public Service ministry in October 2012 retained the nature of job, transport, books and secretariat, higher studies and extra hours’ allowances.

But the lecturers said they were not paid and that they were now demanding payment of 14-month arrears.

“Our take-home pay is very small, that is why we need these allowances to be paid back,” said Mr Edward Momo, the Vice-President of the Academic Staff Association at the University of Juba.

“We have been patient for too long. We will strike until the government reinstates our allowances,” said Mr Makur Makuac Chinor, the chairperson of the academic Staff Association at the University of Bahr el-Ghazal.

Mr Momo said the staff of Dr John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology and other two public universities had downed their tools for similar reasons.

The Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Mr John Gai Yoh, said the lecturers should be patient and wait for a government decision within two weeks.

“I am urging them to end the strike and the government will work on their demands,” the minister said.

South Sudan introduced the austerity measures after shutting down oil production in January 2012 in a transit fee dispute with Sudan.

Oil revenues used to account for 98 per cent of the new country’s budgetary obligations before the shutdown.

The oil flow resumed in April, but the government said it would keep the austerity measures in place for a few months to allow it first repay debts.