Lui hospital staff strike over CUAMM pay contracts
Noah Issa, Mundri
Staff at Lui hospital went on strike yesterday following complaints about low salary structures provided by the Italian University College for Aspiring Missionary Doctors (CUAMM) in Western Equatoria. Speaking to media on behalf of the hospital, Hebert Mureni asserted the staff were not on strike, and the dispute was centred around a few staff members who had refused the new salary contract.
‘It was not a strike but it was some staff refusing to sign the contract’, he said, referring to the claims of some workers that the new rates of pay are too low to cater for their daily needs.
A senior member of staff who has chosen to remain anonymous spoke out at Lui hospital yesterday, telling media that there was no strike but instead a contract dispute.
‘I want to tell you the truth, we are not doing strike, our contract ended last year 2020, but the contract they [CUAMM] have given us is not favourable’, he claimed.
Despite this, Hebert Mureni has said that CUAMM had already informed staff at the hospital that there would be no changes in the upcoming contracts. This is allegedly because CUAMM is still waiting for the new, harmonised salary structure to be provided by Ministry of Health. Only then, they claim, would they be in a position to raise staff salary.
‘On December, 11 last year, CUAMM called a meeting and briefed the Lui hospital staffs that the contract will be the same, no salary increment because they [CUAMM] do not have new harmonised salary structure from the government. If they get approval for new salary structure from the national ministry of health they [CUAMM] are ready to increase, but not now’, Mureni stated.
He added that whilst CUAMM is ready to help improve the living conditions of its workers, it must wait for approval from the Ministry of Health in Juba.
‘CUAMM has made it clear that they are ready to improve the salary structure but need approval from the government of South Sudan on how much they would pay the staffs, but now it’s not possible’, Mureni added.
He responded aggressively to suggestions of a strike, and pointed out that CUAMM was here to help hospital staff.
‘If they [workers] think that CUAMM came from Italy down to Lui to help us, they should think twice about what they have done, because if someone comes to help you and you put more pressure on them then they will not be happy’, Mureni argued.
The CUAMM project manager at the hospital was approached for the comment, but declined to reply.
When asked how much hospital staff are being paid in Lui hospital, Mureni did not give an exact figure. However, it has since been learnt that CUAMM staff earn between $49 and $500 per month.
At present, CUAMM is working in multiple locations across South Sudan, including Maridi county, Mvolo county, Mundri West County and Lakes state. CUAMM first arrived at Lui hospital in 2009 to improve the infrastructure of the hospital and help provide medical services to communities in South Sudan.