NGOs, private firms on the spot over labour law breach

NGOs, private firms on the spot over labour law breach
South Sudan’s Minister of Labor and Industrial Relations, James Hoth Mai, speaks to the media after their arrival from Geneva. [Alex Bullen, The City Review]

The Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations, Gen James Hoth Mai, has faulted national and international NGOs as well as private companies for failing to adhere to 80 per cent labour policy.

Speaking at Juba International Airport on his arrival from attending UN International Labour Conference (ILO) on Monday, Hoth said the government is receiving several complaints regarding foreign, national, and private firms mistreating South Sudan nationals.

“Right now, we’re gathering information on anyone who works with NGOs, businesses, or other sectors. We’re gathering data right now. Yes, there are grievances. And this is one of our responsibilities as the minister of labour, including the implementation of minimum wages, which will address some of these issues,” he said.

Other regulations he cites as having been flouted by NGOs and private companies include lower pay for national workers, non-compliance with the 80 per cent rule and giving expatriates roles that locals can execute. He said some expatriates were working without valid work permits.

However, the official stated that there is time for those businesses to seek counsel and follow the regulations before the government takes action against them.

Last week, Peter Mayen, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, wrote a letter urging foreign and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to follow the country’s labour regulations.

“All the international and national NGOs are here to abide by the labour law which says that 80% of their employees must be South Sudanese,” he said. “The ministry here again reiterates that the law in place should be implemented as it is and that there are no compromises on this. The grace period is there; however, all are urged immediately to start screening the workforce.”

But, according to Hoth, the minister is correct because he is citing the country’s labour rules.

“It is an obligation for all expatriates to process a work permit. It is very important. Anybody who is a foreigner working in South Sudan must have a work permit, regardless of what the person is,” he said.