September 9, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudanese working with the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) walked off the job on Monday, sending panic among the institution’s top managers.
- Arem Riak the spokesperson of KCB national staff speaking to the press in Juba September 9, 2013 (ST)
Angry staff told Sudan Tribune the strike was due to low pay accorded to them, despite rising living costs in the country.
They are demanding a 50% increment to their remuneration as a pre-condition before they resume work.
It is not clear how much national staffers earn at the Kenyan-owned bank.
However, sources within the institution say national staff earn between 2,000 and 5,000 South Sudanese pounds (SSP), depending on their seniority levels.
The National Staff Association (NSA) also accused bank management of allegedly denying workers housing, food and transport allowances, which their foreign counterparts receive.
“Unless our issues are resolved, we shall never return to office”, Arem Riak, speaking on behalf of NSA, told reporters on Monday.
KCB branches all over the country were affected by the strike, prompting top level managers to step in and do the work previously handled by national staffers.
There were scenes of chaos and confusion at branches in the capital, Juba, Buluk, Malakia and Bilpham after workers walked off the job.
Local staff are demanding improved conditions, including a transport allowance of between 300 and 520 SSP and hardship stipends of 1,000 SSP. They have also called for eight out of 12 heads of departments to be locally managed.
The workers have further demanded that staff terminations be handled by the association and not KCB management.
Ajo Noel, the legal advisor to the bank, said he was optimistic that both parties would reach a compromise and normal work would resume.
Sudan Tribune had difficulty reaching new KCB managing director Harun Kibogong, who together with other senior officials, were locked in a meeting on Monday.
The bank, which was officially licensed in April 2006 but began full operations in South Sudan a month later, now boasts of 20 branches spread across the country’s 10 states.
KCB South Sudan currently has a reported 80,000 clients in the country.