Sudan Table of Contents
In 1991, reliable figures for wages in Sudan were difficult to obtain. Public sector wages have been generally higher than those of the privately employed, except in a few large private firms. Until late 1974 when the Minimum Standard of Wages Order (Presidential Order No. 21) was issued, there had not been a minimum wage in the private sector, although in a few occupations such as stevedoring at Port Sudan, official wage orders had set certain minimums. The 1974 minimum, established at £Sdl6.50 a month, was equivalent to the minimum entry wage for public sector jobs. It applied, however, basically only to workers in establishments having ten or more employees in the Khartoum area, Al Jazirah, and certain other urban centers. Its geographical limitations together with important exemptions--employees below the age of eighteen, all those in enterprises having fewer than ten workers, seasonal agricultural workers, and some others-- excluded about three-quarters of all wage earners. Employers were allowed to raise wages that were below the minimum to the prescribed level in three steps to be achieved by October 1977. In 1979 the minimum wage was raised to £Sd28 a month, and a minimum daily rate of £Sd1.50 was established for unskilled workers.
In mid-1978, rising inflation and worker unrest led the government to inaugurate the Job Evaluation and Classification Scheme (JECS), through which a substantial two-stage increase in public sector wages was to be effected. Considerable discontent with gradings appeared to have arisen, and for many people, little improvement in salaries occurred. One of the problems reportedly was the misjudgments in the JECS reclassification process that resulted in commitment of all allocated funds for the program well before the program had been half completed. In early 1979, members of the domestic bank workers' union and hospital technicians, among others, carried out strikes, and in August the powerful 32,000-man Sudan Railway Workers' Union (SRWU) also walked out. The government promised SRWU members that they would be given the second half of the JECS raise, but the strike was ended by the use of armed troops. SRWU again went on strike in May-June 1981, in part also because of continued discontent with JECS actions. The strike, which was also ended by use of the military, was declared illegal and the union dissolved. Various leaders were arrested. The government then appointed a preparatory committee to reestablish the SRWU.
Data as of June 1991