By Parach Mach
JUBA, South Sudan (AA) - Lecturers at five public universities in South Sudan went on strike Wednesday, angry over delayed salaries and bonuses promised by the government.
The industrial action comes after a seven-day deadline given to the government last week elapsed Tuesday.
Philip Finish, an academic at Juba University and a spokesman for the lecturers, told Anadolu Agency his colleagues were demanding “immediate pay, medical cover, travel allowances and also salary increase”.
The five institutions are: Juba; Bahr El Ghazel; Upper Nile; John Garang; and Rumbek Universities.
The economy is reeling from a high hard-currency exchange rate with the U.S. dollar after the return of former rebel leader, now First Vice President, Riek Machar to Juba to form a transitional unity government.
South Sudan depends entirely oil exports to finance 98 percent of its fiscal budget and it still awaits a promised financial bailout from the international community after it sent a high delegation to Washington in April to negotiate with the IMF and World Bank.
Chol Maken, a science student at the University of Juba, told Anadolu Agency that the strikes will affect his and his colleagues’ studies.
“Studies will stop for all the students and the graduating candidates will be affected in most cases,” Maken said.
Another student, Jok Guet, blamed lecturers' “lack of patriotism” for failing to consider the economic crisis in the country: “Their salaries were increased recently to about 10,000 South Sudanese pounds [$500] in this economic hardship. Some civil servants are now living below 2,000 South Sudanese pounds, [$70].”