Unequal pay continue to irritate national staff

By Taban Henry

Industrial actions resumed as the Joint Operating Companies failed to implement the unified human resources policies to the national staff.

Earlier in 2020, the Minister of Petroleum issued an order instructing the Joint Operating Companies to immediately unify human resources policies to the national staff.

South Sudan oil sector has been operating using the Sudan HR policies for the last 10 years but upon independence in 2011 and against the principle of equal pay for equal work enshrined in ESPA, Sudan labour law, petroleum Act, South Sudan Labour law.

In 2021, the Council of Ministers unanimously approved the UHRPM -2020 and through its resolution No. 2 (iv) instructing the Minister of Petroleum to immediately and fully implement the UHRPM to bridge the huge remuneration gap between the international and national staff. The Minister of Petroleum has earlier nullified the unified Sudan Human Resource policy and endorsed the full implementation of the new human resource policy.

Earlier this year in a joint press conference dated 22/2/2022 by the Ministry of Petroleum and the foreign partners with whom the parties agreed to implement the unified human resource policy, the Minister of Petroleum directed the JOCs for full and immediate implementation of the UHRPM.

In a statement released to the media on Wednesday, the staff of DNOCs revealed that all the oil governing agreements and international best practices and without the approval from the Ministry of Petroleum, the foreign partners partially updated these policies unilaterally increasing their salaries excluding national staff and marginalizing the national staff technically.

“The government through its Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Petroleum corrected the mistreatment and formulated new unified human resource policy manual and instructed JOCs, DPOC, GPOC and SPOC for immediate implementation but citing that the foreign partners had ignored the policy that was changed since 2020,” the statement said.

The statement revealed that partners were undermining the sovereignty of the country shown in their unwillingness to respect guidelines, policies, regulations and laws of the country with impunity citing it as partners undermining the Council of Ministers and the orders from the Ministry of Petroleum asking for the implementation of the unified human resources policy manual.

“The non-implementation of the UHRPM-2020 by foreign partners, lack of promotions training, capacity building and absolute blockage of National Staff from holding senior and critical positions (especially technical positions) event if they are highly competent and qualified for those positions,” it stated.

It mentioned that the National Staff are working for 10 months with salaries while being forced to take unfavourable loans by DPOC management instead of their legal salaries as per UHRPM adding that this starvation policy is against human rights, South Sudan labour Law, Petroleum Act, 2012, ESPA, JOCSA and oil industry international best practices.

“The policy vacuum in the joint operating companies (DPOC, GPOC & SPOC) which could be taken as an advantage by criminals to embezzle much needed funds which our nation is in dire need. Unwillingness of the foreign partners to allow expatriates to pay personal income tax (PIT) to the government,” he mentioned.

The statement hinted that the amount of taxes evaded through this tax evasion runs in millions of dollars if not billions.

It added that they are oil industry experts not linked to any political group in the country citing that they have been seeking solutions to oil industry to adhere to the laws of this country but they remain seized of these matter.

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