Oil firms start implementation of labour policy
Petroleum industry in the country is expecting a period of calm, following an agreement between the government and petroleum consortia operating in South Sudan to implement the Unified Human Resource Policy Manual (UHRPM) for the Ministry of Petroleum.
The industry has seen rampant strikes by oil workers who are South Sudan nationals over the implementation of the policy manual.
Oil workers from Great Pioneer Operating Company Limited (GPOC), Dar Petroleum Operating Company (DPOC), Sudd Petroleum Operating Company (SPOC), and Nile Petroleum (Nilepet) have been on strike because of failure to implement the policy, retarding productivity, and poor environmental management in and around the oil fields over the past two years, according to the petroleum ministry.
The policy, approved in 2020, seeks, among other main issues, the harmonisation of wages and allegiances disparity between nationals and foreign workers of the South Sudan oil and gas industry.
According to the Ministry of Petroleum, Puot Kang Chol, the delay was caused by some government officials who wanted to block the implementation of the policy.
“The document was used by individuals who have nothing to do with the oil sector to solicit funds and get contracts in the name of the document so that the policy is not implemented,” Mr. Kang said, “Because of our belief and conviction, we continue to pursue the same path because what we were doing was not against the law, and we managed to agree to implement the manual.”
Kang congratulated the Joint Operating Companies (JOCs) that is DPOC, GPOC, SPOC and Nilepet for agreeing to implement it.
Speaking on behalf of foreign partners, Liu Zhiyong called for forgiveness as the process that resulted in a consensus on the implementation of the policy was difficult, and involved lots of issues.
“The day is a remarkable day in the implementation of the Unified Human Resource Policy Manual,” representative of foreign partners Liu Zhiyong said, “The process is not easy. It is more confession, more of forgiveness, it’s more of mutual understanding, and finally, we achieved [the implementation].”
However, the Minister of Labour, James Hoth Mai said the next crucial step for the partners after the start of policy implementation will be to environmental protection and safety of the people living in and around the oil fields.
“There is no need to accuse these people again (foreign partners) for delaying the implementation of the policy. From today onward, we should start a new era,” said Hoth. “People are opening cases against South Sudan, this is not South Sudan alone. This includes JOCs. Our environment is so bad you have to get ready to answer those questions.”
The policy is expected to iron out thorny issues raised by the national workers for the umpteenth time. They want their salaries harmonized with the earnings of their expatriate counterparts, allowances and alleged overworking.