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NGO Workers Protest Salary Reduction in Yumbe,

International Rescue Comittee Uganda
International Rescue Comittee Uganda
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Support staff working under the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a non-governmental organization (NGO), are staging protests over a significant reduction in their salaries. The workers claim that the cuts, exceeding 50% from a net pay of approximately 800,000 shillings to 357,000 shillings, will deeply impact their well-being and plans.

Ashiraf Haruna, the secretary for IRC support staff (guards and cleaners) in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, accused IRC of implementing these changes abruptly without proper preparation. The support staff received a circular on December 6, 2023, indicating that structures for cleaners and guards would be phased out by December 31, 2023.

Haruna alleged that IRC management had a long-standing plan to lay off support staff, particularly those who are natives of the region. He claimed that similar attempts were made in 2018 and 2022, but the support staff, backed by local leaders, managed to resist the lay-offs.

The reduction in salaries is affecting 112 support staff, and Haruna expressed concern about the potential impact on the education of their children. He argued that, given the global crises, the focus should have been on increasing salaries to meet rising costs rather than slashing them.

Levi Byaruhanga, the field coordinator for IRC in Bidibidi, attributed the salary cuts to reduced funding from their main funder, UNHCR, leading to a 30% budget cut for IRC. The country director, Elijah Okeyo, acknowledged the challenges in a letter to the Yumbe district chairperson, citing severe donor budget reductions due to global economic challenges.

In response to the protests, IRC is offering former staff the opportunity to apply for the new positions of guards and cleaners on a voluntary basis. The advertised positions come with a monthly gross salary of 400,953 shillings after statutory deductions. IRC is also hiring services from the police and local guards to fill the staffing gap.

During a meeting organized by Yumbe district chairperson Abdulmutalib Asiku, leaders urged IRC management and UNHCR to review their budgets and consider raising the net pay for support staff to at least 450,000 shillings. The meeting also highlighted the global economic crisis and encouraged affected staff to accept the offer as a sign of appreciation.

The resolutions include allowing IRC to continue receiving applications from interested staff, screening those with discipline issues, and running an external advert in Yumbe district if some affected staff do not show interest.