May 2,2013 (JUBA) - The leader of South Sudan’s Warrap state workers’ union is protesting the body’s suspension to the ministry of justice, asking the central government to quickly intervene and reverse the decision of state governor Nyandeng Malek Dielic, who disbanded the union last week.
- Workers taking crates of water from the production line at the water factory in Bor, Jonglei State, South Sudan, October 12, 2012 (ST)
The move, came after the union opposed the governor’s decision, calling for a one-day salary cut for all government employees to raise money for next month’s sports tournament, scheduled to be held in Western Bahr el Ghazal state.
However, members of the union argued that the tournament was a national event, and not a state matter, questioning why money was being raised through the deduction of workers’ pay.
In a letter dated 1 May, union chairperson Wol Anei Anei said that he is determined to pursue the case, claiming the decision not only violates workers’ rights but also the transitional constitution.
The letter was addressed to the national minister of justice, with copies also sent to the state governor along with several officials and institutions.
“We are calling [for the] intervention of the central government in [the] matter because the decision of the governor lacks any basis. Her actions do not have any constitutional backing. She is just like someone going against the current in a flowing river. She is denying the legality of the workers”, Anei told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.
Anei pointed out that Malek, then an advisor on gender affairs to former governor Tor Deng Mawien, was aware of a letter sent to all 10 state governors by vice-president Riek Machar in October 2008 requesting the establishment of the union .
WORKERS PAY CUT
In an interview with Sudan Tribune, Paul Dhel Gum, the animal resources and fisheries minister, said Malek’s decision to impose a one-day salary cut on all civil servants was to enable the state meet its obligations in wake of the current economic meltdown.
He claimed that a one-day pay cut from each government employee equated to less than 1 South Sudanese Pound.
However, Anei said that the procedures taken to calculate employees’ salary were wrong and must not be allowed to remain unchallenged, adding that government systems in place must be upheld by all regardless of their status.
“Workers are not against deduction. This must be clear so that our position is not misunderstood. We are ready to contribute more than one day. We have always done that”, he explained, citing previous significant contributions made by workers.
According to Anei, workers last year contributed 444,298 South Sudanese pounds.
“This money was voluntarily contributed and there was no complaint because it was well organised. The workers and the councils of ministers with the state parliament were involved. We had expected the same thing to be done. The councils of ministers and the parliament together with workers union and other relevant groups should have been informed”, he said
Malek, however, has questioned the legality of the body, saying the letter addressed to the previous governor did not quote any constitutional procedures relevant to the laws of South Sudan or the provisional labour act as a guiding principal.
Quoting the state’s transitional constitution, Malek said that a government decree should not be subject to questioning.
But Anei claims the governor has gone beyond her constitutional powers and has violated the rights of employees on the grounds her decisions cannot be questioned because she is the last authority.
“What she has done cannot even be done by the president. She has violated a lot of things here. The first violation was the deduction of the employees’ salary without their consents …This decision can never be taken without involving other institutions like the council of ministers and the parliament. President Kiir himself cannot do what she did. He cannot issue a decree deducting employees’ salary without consulting them and the other institutions,” he said.
“The second violation is the suspension of the body which represents them. The body has been registered and that is why it has been operating for all these years. If it was not legal why was it allowed to operate for all [these] years? The other thing is the condemnation of [the 2008] letter of the vice-president, which is the basis of establishing [the] workers union”, Anei added.