South Sudan: Teachers’ union head deprived of union membership and intimidated by the state Minister of Education over salary disputes.
Following his recent call for the state government to pay teachers’ full salaries or face a strike when school reopens in January, the Secretary-General (SG) of the Central Equatoria State Teachers’ Union said he had been stripped of union membership and threatened by the state Minister of Education.
Mr. Justin Walak, the union’s secretary-general, stated that the state Minister of Education, Cirsio Zecharia, contacted him on Christmas Eve and informed him that he had been suspended from the state teachers’ union.
“The Honourable Minister of Education phoned me before Christmas and told me that he had withdrawn my powers from the Union and also suspended my membership in the Union,” Walak explained in a Juba Monitor report seen by NCMP.
“He suspended me orally, he has not handed me a suspension document. He threatened me because in most meetings, I was face-to-face with him and he wanted to get rid of me,” he claimed.
According to the report by the same media outlet, all efforts to reach the minister for comments were unsuccessful as he refused to answer repeated calls.
The news website also mentioned, as seen by NCMP, that on December 22, 2021, Justin Walak broached that teachers throughout the state had threatened to strike early next year if the state administration did not discharge educators’ wage arrears in compliance with the new compensation system, including the type of work allowance.
The instructors had previously set the authorities a 7-day deadline to react to their complaints after allegedly deleting the column of “nature of work allowance” in the teachers’ paycheck.
Mr. Walak pledged to keep up the pressure and said that teachers would not return to the classrooms if the state administration did not address their concerns.
“We made it quite clear that we would not be attending classes on January 3rd when the schools reopened unless they paid us in full.”
“Teachers refused to collect their paychecks, we went to Christmas without payments, and the state Ministry has yet to react to us, and we will not show up to teach when schools reopen on January 3rd, 2022,” he stated.
“We have submitted our resolutions and gave an ultimatum time of up to December 23rd before Christmas. However, before that, the honorable Minister of Education called us for a meeting at his office and was like exercising his power by authorizing the payment of salaries with the omission of work allowance, which means that he is contracting the demand of the teachers,” he stressed.