September 1, 2014 (JUBA) – Members of the health workers’ union in South Sudan have threatened a strike over allowances and long working hours, unless government intervenes with immediate effect.
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Jacob Lamin, who heads the workers’ union, told reporters Monday that the government had until the end of this week to respond to a number of issues raised in a memo submitted to the latter.
“Until now, we still do not know where our heads and backs are. Until now, there is no clear explanation and talk about hazard allowances, no transport allowances, no overtime allowances and the worst of all, the money that is said to be a salary takes time to come and when it comes, sometimes after two to three months, it is only one month which is paid and the rest remains to take another long time,” said Lamin.
“We want the conditions of the health workers, medical doctors, nurses, midwives and all other medical categories to be improved in Wau, Malakal and in all states,” he added.
The official further stressed that working hours needed to be agreed upon so that health workers enjoy their rights like other employees.
“Health workers have right to public holidays, leave and official working hours which start from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and from Monday to Friday. We should be working for eight hours a day and five days a week,” he said.
Sisto Lomicu Bashir, a representative of nurses at Juba teaching hospital, said they gave government a seven-day ultimatum to pay their dues or face the likely consequences of their planned strike.
The warning comes hardly a week after more than 200 nurses, doctors and support staff at Juba teaching hospital staged a one-day strike in protest against government’s failure to pay their dues.
“After we raised the alarm, the minister of health together with the undersecretary and the minister in the office of the president came and said they have heard our complaint. They said this issue must be resolved but until now, we not are seeing anything apart from the assurances. There is no indication of movement,” Nafisa Ladu Modi, the head of hospital staff committee separately told reporters on Monday.
He said workers also demanded clarification from the public service ministry on issues relating to their working hours as well as a review of their payments.
South Sudan’s health budget is reportedly still 5% below the Abuja declaration, which requires that African countries allocate at least 15% of their annual budgets to the health sector.