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UNAMID national staff to continue strike while awaiting decision from New York

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UNAMID local staff members protest in El-Fasher over non-payement of entitlements on 28 July 2016 (ST Photo)

August 4, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - The Representative of nearly 3000 Sudanese staff of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said that their open-ended strike will continue until the United Nations headquarters commit itself in writing to the implementation of their demands.

Since last Thursday, UNAMID national staff members have gone on strike over alleged non-payment of due benefits. Also they ask to address all the outstanding entitlements, including the risk allowance, to be consistent with the increase in salaries in the period from 2012 to 2015.

The head of the UNAMID National Staff Union Khalil Tkras told Sudan Tribune on Thursday that they are determined to continue their strike adding that "It is the first strike in the history of the United Nations to last for more than one week in order to deliver specific demands to the UN headquarters".

Tkras further said they had a meeting with the UNMAID chief Martin Uhomoibhi and his aides to reach an agreement leading to suspend the strike and achieve their demands.

He pointed that they had informed Uhomoibhi they will continue the strike until they receive a written response from New York.

He added the head of UNAMID asked them to stop the protest first. But they refused, stressing that their movement is peaceful "despite the provocations of the mission and in spite of repeated reminders of UN rules and regulations".

DISRUPTION OF UNAMID OPERATIONS

However, the hybrid mission on Thursday issued a statement on the strike, saying it was "deeply concerned" about the ongoing protest action by the Sudanese staff.

"The strike has been accompanied by reports of attempts to disrupt the Mission’s operations by locking entry gates to key areas in the Mission’s headquarters in El Fasher and coercing non-participating staff members as well as individual contractors not to perform their duties," said the statement.

’’UNAMID wishes to stress that such actions are in breach of UN rules and regulations as well as staff members’ obligations as international civil servants,’’ UNAID further stressed.

However, the head of the national staff union stressed that the strike is a guaranteed right in the United Nations conventions, and cannot be considered as a violation or breach of the laws.

He pointed out that the manner in which the mission has issued the warning indicates a degree of "bad intentions" and "demonstrates that it does ignore the United Nations Principles".

Tkras further strongly denied attempts to obstruct the work of other colleagues or to lock entry gates. He added that what had happened during the first day of the strike they wanted to avoid that some try to infiltrate the UNAMID local staff, adding they wanted to protect the mission not and not damaging it.

The UNAMID said it implemented the new salary scale and payment of national staff salaries in US dollars, with an effect from September 2015.

"All retroactive payments due to staff have been paid in full," the statement emphasized.

Here again, the head of the national staff union categorically denied receiving the retroactive payments.

He described as "misleading" the statement. He added that the salary review was conducted in September 2015 but it was only made public in February 2016. Also, he said they didn’t receive any payment of what is claimed in the statement.

The hybrid mission said it would keep seeking to resolve the concerns of the national staff adding that "Any action by staff members that may negatively impact mandate delivery or disrupt daily operations, should, therefore, be avoided".

There are some 2,900 local workers in the hybrid peacekeeping mission which is deployed in Darfur since December 2007.

(ST)

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