South Sudan’s Emmanuel Radio Reporters Down Tools, Demand “salary scale” Revised Upwards

A journalist working in the studio of Emmanuel Radio, South Sudan.

A section of reporters attached to Emmanuel Radio of South Sudan’s Torit Diocese, one of the nine radio stations constituting the Catholic Radio Network (CRN) who downed their tools last Thursday, February 20 over remuneration grievances are calling on the management of the 11-year-old media outlet to revise their pay upwards.

“We want the management of the Catholic Diocese of Torit to revise the salary scale of the staff of Radio Emmanuel, putting into consideration that the least paid should be at least US$500.00,” Emmanuel Radio’s head of news department, James Kabaka Quintos told ACI Africa Friday, February 21.

“This (pay rise) is long overdue; we have been patient, and some of us have worked in Radio Emmanuel for about four years and some staff joined us some two years back, and the management is taking it as if it is something very simple,” Quintos explained.

The news reporter told ACI Africa that he, alongside his colleagues, submitted a petition with their grievances to the administration of the diocese, addressed to the Local Ordinary.

“The letter now is hanging in the office of the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Torit,” he disclosed and added, “What we need now is that we do not want to talk to anybody but we want to talk directly to the Bishop. Our resumption of the work will be if we meet the Bishop.”


In the petition letter dated February 20 and seen by ACI Africa correspondent in South Sudan, the radio reporters note, “the gap between those in the top management and the lower staff is regrettably big and as such, we would like to remind you that those in the top management receive over US$1000.00 as all of us receive less than US$200.00.” 

The radio reporters accuse the station’s top management that comprises the director and the station manager among others of “paying deaf ears” to their grievances and further state that their “patience is no longer bearable.”

“We are calling for the dissolution of the top management and a new management has to be brought,” Quintos told ACI Africa and added, “We will only come back to work upon signing a new contract with the right pay.” 

Besides the pay issue, the reporters also express concerns regarding training opportunities and the use of the station’s assets.

“We also have this concern of staff going out for trainings sponsored by partners but as such the top management claims to fund the welfare of the staff including flights in an attempt to benefit themselves from donors.” the reporters state in their collective petition to the Local Ordinary, Bishop Stephen Ameyu.  

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They add, “Those in the top management use the station’s properties for their personal interests and as well have access to holidays more often than any other staff.”

In an interview with ACI Africa correspondent in South Sudan, Emmanuel Radio Director, Fr. Santino Lounoi said he was surprised by the move on the part of the reporters and that the grievances had not been presented to his office.

“Since we have been with them, they never even brought any issue, any grievance completely,” Fr. Lounoi said and added, “I don’t know how they could do that, usually when you want to strike, first of all you notify the office of your grievance and then if it is not settled then you are supposed to notify that on this day, then we are going to strike.” 

According to the South Sudanese cleric, the radio station was complying with the government regulations on taxes. The directive from the South Sudanese government to pay taxes, Fr. Lounoi said, affected the net salary of the reporters.

“From last year July, the state told us that we have to pay taxes, so now this money they are getting is being taxed,” Fr. Lounoi said.


Referencing last month’s meeting with the reporters, the Torit diocesan cleric said the staff attached to the radio station had been told that “from this little money we need to save something for you, at the end when you are finishing the contract, it is always good to get something small.” 

The cleric further explained, “Because of these taxes, the amount reduced because somebody who is getting US$200.00 gets US$153.00 as the net salary which he takes – and out of that there is taxes and something that is saved as the end of the contract kind of benefit.” 

“I do not know whether they are reacting to that because they did not even tell us,” Fr. Lounoi said and added, “If they are reacting (to that), they are reacting after a long time.” 

The priest explained that in their discussion with the staff in January, the management had clarified, “We have no choice because with the government we have to follow the law if we have to pay taxes.” 

Asked about the general salary range at Emmanuel Radio, he disclosed, “There are those who get US$100.00, US$200.00, US$300.00, and US$400.00, then up to US$900.00 after deductions. The highest (salary) is US$1500.00.” 

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“We signed contracts in January and they are ending in June (2020). Now I was saying when they were signing these contracts in January, they should have raised these issues and we would have discussed whether they were willing or not,” the priest said. 

According to the radio Director, “Usually when in contract, I really don’t know if you can strike because this is something you are told that this is what we have and if you feel you are not okay with it, the option is always (to) go and get a better pay (elsewhere).” 

“My problem with them,” Fr. Lounoi told ACI Africa in reference to the reporters on strike, “After all this time, they never even raised in a meeting that we are complaining; they never brought up the issue. If they were to bring the issue to us, we would discuss, because our position was you know these things are based on contracts and the increment is maybe when we have the income.” 

Commenting on the petition to the Bishop, Fr. Lounoi explained that such administrative matters are resolved at the Vicar General’s office since he is the one in charge of staff in the diocese.

However, since the reporters addressed themselves to the Bishop, Fr. Lounoi said, they will need to await the Bishop’s return from Juba.