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Bread crises, salary double-standards in Sudan

March 25 - 2019 DARFUR/KHARTOUM
Baker prepares the dough to make bread in his bakery in El Fasher, North Darfur (Farran/Unamid)
Baker prepares the dough to make bread in his bakery in El Fasher, North Darfur (Farran/Unamid)

Residents in South Darfur have told Radio Dabanga most bakeries are out of work, while bankers in Khartoum complain of unfair treatment over wage increases.

Nyala, the capital of South Darfur is experiencing a severe bread crisis. Residents told Dabanga most of the bakeries are not operating, while those which are working have long lines. The price of a loaf of bread is two Pounds ($0.04*).

The owner of a bakery in Nyala said most bakeries worked on Saturday with only two sacks of flour and then bakeries completely stopped work on Sunday.

The Sudanese Pound has continued to drop against the US Dollar, against the backdrop of ongoing demonstrations calling for the step-down of President Al Bashir and his regime from power, which were sparked by bread and fuel shortages in Atbara on 13 December 2018.

Salary in US Dollars

In Khartoum, Union of Bank of Khartoum employees have asked for their salaries to be paid in US Dollars, like their foreign colleagues at the bank in a statement.

The statement says that it is not reasonable for the salary of a Sudanese employee to equal one percent of the salary of a foreign colleague. The union also demanded a reason for delays in wage increases, which they have asked for since August 2018 after significant inflation. Considering the administration's disregard of their demand, they have demanded payment of their wages in US Dollars.

The head of the Sudanese Workers Trade Unions Federation announced in December last year that wages would rise by SDG 500 ($10.52) for those in the lowest income group, and SDG 2,500 ($52.63) for higher earners. Pensioners would also receive an increase of SDG 500.

Duriya Babikir, speaking for the Sudanese Professionals Association at the time, told Radio Dabanga that “this does not translate to a decent living wage”. She demanded that a new minimum wage be set at SDG 8,664 for the minimum amount that can meet the basic needs of citizens.

As effective foreign exchange rates can vary widely in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the Market Makers Mechanism-determined daily US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).

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