National, News

UAP axes 10 staff amid controversy

By William Madouk

Ongoing dispute between UAP insurance company and national workers is not far from over, as the company has now fired 10 of the protesting staff.

National staff and the company have been in disagreement for three weeks now over unfair treatment and varying wages for nationals and expatriate colleagues in the same job.

That forced about 70 national staff to stage a sit-in strike, bringing the UAP business to a standstill.

However, the Undersecretary in the Ministry of Labor, Mary Hillary Wani, last week advised the UAP staff to halt their sit-down strike and return to work to pave the way for dialogue for an amicable settlement.

Luka Nyarsuk Nason, Chairman of the Labor Advisory Council, in a letter dated September 29, asked the UAP management to also put on hold all administrative measures taken against the national staff.

“The management is to immediately withhold administrative measures taken against members of the union,” Nason said.

“The Ministry of Labor is to constitute an inspection team to review the human resource policy, salary, and list of the workforce, both national and alien,” he added.

But yesterday, when the UAP staff decided to return to the office, only 52 were given access to the entrance and about 10 employees were dismissed from work by management, leaving staff fuming as they vowed to continue striking.

One of the striking staff said they wanted to resume work on Monday but realized that some of their colleagues were dismissed despite Labor Advisory Council instruction.

“Today (yesterday), we are being locked out again. The management came out with a number of lists of the staff that are supposed to be entering. But then the General Assembly decided not to enter,” he said.

“Because what people are discussing is not only for the individual but for the general national staff. The team agreed that they are not supposed to enter when other colleagues are left out,” he added.

He claimed that the management of the UAP insurance company is not showing a will to resolve the matter and urged the Ministry of Labor to intervene.

He cited that the case has been on the labor docket since 2022, but no action has been taken so far, adding that they would not file another petition when the case is already at the Ministry of Labor desk.

“You cannot bring another case, another case. We already filed the case, and she even has a case in her office.”

Another striking staff member who spoke anonymously told No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper that they heeded the Ministry of Labor’s instruction to revoke the industrial action, but the UAP did the opposite.

“We decided to follow the Ministry of Labor’s instructions to go back, but upon reaching there, to our surprise, we found that there is a list of members who are supposed to access the premises, and there are others who are not given access,” she noted.

“So, we all agreed and decided to come back and sit as we wait for any instructions from the Ministry of Labor again and our management,” she continued.

The striking staff said they would keenly wait for the Ministry of Labor to address their issues; otherwise, they would write a petition to parliament or seek justice before a competent court of law.

“The Ministry of Labor is trying but not fully; we expected them to really support us because this is a national issue,” she lamented.

She explained that there are also other national staff undergoing similar issues at other foreign companies in the country.

“We also have other foreign companies; there are staff who are also going through this issue, so we felt that we needed to get into the root of this issue and really make it a better place. It might be affecting us here, but there are also some other people being affected there.”

However, Mary Hillary Wani told this outlet that she advised the national staff to resume work while they would sort out the issue of those who were terminated.

When asked whether UAP did not defy Labor Advisory Council instruction to halt all administrative measures until the issue is resolved, Mrs. Wani stated that she is scheduling a meeting on Wednesday with both parties on the matter.

“I’m doing everything according to the Labor Law and according to the ILO principle and standards, that if there is any dispute, the workers, the employers, and the government have to sit down, discuss, and reach a compromise, and this is what I’m doing,” Mrs. Wani stressed.

Efforts to reach UAP management were futile as their office remains locked and known contacts went unanswered.



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