Hundreds of support staff in the Transitional National Legislative Assembly ended a one-day sit-in Tuesday to protest not being paid in months. Striking workers locked out members of Parliament from their offices on Monday, prompting officials to dispatch police to the parliament building. No staffers were arrested.
Support workers met Monday with parliament officials to lay out their demands for incentives but were told there was not enough money to go around, said Kennedy Enoka, acting secretary general of the parliament worker's union. Staffers agreed to divide the available funds among all workers equally, according to Enoka.
“Although it is not the demand we are asking for, but at least because we are at the low once to get something and we get the money equally, but what we wanted is that we have sent our message out across because some people who are thinking the parliament is getting privileges with the members,” Enoka told South Sudan in Focus.
After receiving guarantees their salaries and incentives in arrears would be paid, workers were back on the job Tuesday, said Enoka.
“They’re going to receive their 6500 (South Sudanese Pounds) as the incentives and we are more than 600 hundred. We have resumed the work but we have sent the message,” Enoka told VOA.
Everything was back to normal Tuesday morning, said Natelina Amjima Malek, deputy chairperson of the Assembly’s special committee on information, communication, technology and postal services.
“They received their incentives. Some are already receiving and others are also going to get, so it wasn’t a serious case,” Malek told South Sudan in Focus.
Marmena Awerial Aluong, Deputy Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly said workers were told they would receive 5 million South Sudanese pounds in incentives on Friday but that didn’t happen, prompting Monday’s strike.
“They locked all the offices and people could not enter, so we asked them what is the reason. They said that it is money related, and this is not their right because it is only incentives and overtime for the work that they have done because the money which came was only for operation,” Aluong told South Sudan in Focus.
No business was completed Monday because MPs were locked out, said Aluong.
“We want to speed up and finish and the workers came here with no reason for closing the offices and the sitting was canaled completely of which we would have passed one of the bills today,” Aluong told VOA.
MP Juol Nhomngek Daniel said taffers continued working for months without pay.
"Since January, they have never been paid. Last week, there was 200 million pounds which was supposed to cover all the services including the payment of the staff, so when they saw that they were not being paid, they gave notice to the leadership of parliament that they will not work this week unless their demands or grievances in parliament are met.”
During Monday's strike, the speaker was reportedly out of the country on a trip to Uganda, while the clerk to parliament had traveled to Tanzania.