Further strikes to demand higher wages announced throughout Sudan

Sudanese Pounds (Photo: RD)

KATILA / ED EL FURSAN


University lecturers in Sudan embarked on a strike on Tuesday to protest the Sudanese government leaving a new salary structure out of the current year’s budget, as teachers’ and tax bureau strikes continue to face the threat of arbitrary transfers.

A number of university lecturers told Radio Dabanga that the strike was carried out in all universities in Khartoum. The University Lecturers Committee said in a statement on Tuesday that the “comprehensive strike for an indefinite period” is taking place because the Ministry of Finance has failed to respond to their demands within the allotted timeframe.

The Committee noted that the list of conditions of service for faculty members of Sudanese universities has been completed. The Supreme Council for Higher Education agrees with the conditions, but the document has not yet been approved in its final form. The strike excludes exams, which be held as planned.

The announcement was made one day after Sudanese teachers began another three-week stretch of nationwide comprehensive strike action after what they termed a disappointing meeting with the Minister of Finance last week, who not only refused to meet their demands, but also abandoned previous promises.

Authorities in Khartoum and El Gezira declared an official holiday for all schools between January 11 and 29 yesterday, in conjunction with the teachers’ strike. Earlier this week, Red Sea state, Northern State and Nile River state declared official holidays until the end of the month.

The Sudanese Teachers Committee has received an invitation from the US embassy in Khartoum to meet to discuss the strike and education in the country. The committee said in a statement yesterday that they will consult their members before reacting to the invitation.

Regional strikes

Teachers in Blue Nile region also joined the teachers’ strike on Monday. State schools in Kurmuk, Bau, and El Tadamon are demanding better salaries and working conditions.

Mahjoub Mudawi, head of the Blue Nile region Teachers’ Committee told Radio Dabanga insecurity in a number of areas means that the call for a comprehensive strike did not reach all the teachers. He added that teachers at private schools may join the strike, but this is uncertain.

The director of Rashad locality in South Kordofan suspended the salaries of teachers on Monday. Journalist Ahmed Mukhtar told Radio Dabanga that the director cancelled the assignment of the Education Department of the South Kordofan Ministry of Education and Guidance on January 9 and also stopped the payment of salaries of the locality’s education director and his staff.

No official reason has been given for this action. “These procedures are not within the remit of the locality director,” he stated. “In December, the same director arbitrarily transferred 27 striking teachers to other localities,” Mukhtar reported.

Arbitrary transfer

Teachers in El Gedaref in eastern Sudan staged a protest vigil in front of the state’s Ministry of Education to demand the dismissal of the ministry’s director and an increase in wages on Monday.

Mohamed Fathelrahman, chair of the El Gedaref Course Correction Committee, told Radio Dabanga that the director “threatened to arbitrarily transfer a number of striking teachers to other places”. He reported the continued closure of schools, despite the start of the first period exams.

Employees of the Sudanese Tax Bureau in Khartoum also embarked on an open-ended strike on Tuesday to call for increased pay and protest the arbitrary transfer of 80 of their colleagues.

In a press statement yesterday, the Staff Committee of the Claims Department of the Tax Bureau denounced the decision of the Bureau’s director to transfer 80 staff members “in order to destabilise the unity of the workers calling for better pay.”

The committee described the transfer as “a declaration of war on the staff” and demanded the director’s dismissal. The statement called on all workers to participate in the strike.

Arbitrary transfer of teachers was also reported in White Nile state in December. The acting Minister of Education is supposed to stand with the teachers’ demands and defend them, and not threaten to transfer or dismiss them, said member of the Teachers’ Strike Committee, Duriya Babiker, on December 18.