Africa-Press – South-Sudan. A lawmaker in the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA), Salva Mathok, has appealed to the national ministry of labour to review the labour policy in the country.
He cited UN organisations and NGOs, which he said are occupied by foreigners instead of employing South Sudanese graduates.
“…almost 3,000 vacancies in the oil industry and 2,000 vacancies in UN organisations and other NGOs operating in this country are all occupied by foreigners. It’s very unfortunate that they have brought in cooks and drivers, among others, as foreigners,” he said.
“I advise the Minister of Labour to study this and act according to the laws of labour of this country, the immigration department [should] deny the calibre of personnel entering the country to occupy jobs that the citizens of this country deserve,” he said. “[They should] deny them visas, work permits, and even stay permits,” he added.
While serving as the deputy minister of interior in 2013, Mathok banned foreigners from operating Boda Boda businesses in Juba. On Thursday, he urged the government to open its doors to South Sudanese who seek jobs in their offices, saying 2022 is a year of forgiveness, love, and peace.
“The youths of this country have no access to reach them (authorities) to explain themselves, looking for opportunities to get a job. Allow them to reach you and listen to them. Our youth who have acquired knowledge and skills are looking for jobs for their living,” he said.
Labour market assessment In October, last year, the national minister for labour James Hoth Mai said the ministry would gather data on “labour market assessment,” in the private sector to establish the number of employees.
“In the private sector up now, we don’t know the number of the people working in this country. We have finished with the banks and hotels, but we have not reached the NGOs,” Hoth said.
“We don’t have the data collected yet, soon we shall reach all the offices of the NGOs so that they can provide us with the data on the number of workers they have employed,” Mr Hoth said. Hoth said the private sector was very important because it could help the government by creating employment opportunities.
Complaints about employment disparities arose in 2020, particularly regarding the employment of nationals and foreigners, with some businesses defying the provisions of the South Sudan Labour Act 2017.
Then Minister for Public Service, Joseph Bangasi Bakosoro, said the Labour Act was not observed and thus vowed to fight unemployment challenges in the country. He added that South Sudanese ignored the act that could protect their cause.
The Labour Act
Chapter 2, section (8), subsections (1) and (2) of the Labour Act entitles every employee to equal pay when they do similar work, which some companies are said to have not been observing. The chapter describes the lack of transparency in payment as discrimination among employees.
“For this section, discrimination includes any distinction, exclusion, or preference with the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation, based on national extraction, tribe or place of origin, marital status, and family responsibilities,” reads subsection 3.
Chapter 3, Section (28) Sub-section (4), guarantees the labour inspectorates free access, without notice, to a business or company’s premise and to search for and examine books, documents, objects, or substances deemed relevant to their investigation.
According to section (46), subsection (3) (b) of the Labour Act 2017, foreign employees must have valid working permits.
However, last year, there were reports of companies with cases of sexual harassment. Ecobank admitted that names of staff involved in sexual harassment would be published in its consent to the ministry of labour.
“No person shall sexually harass an employee or an employer. This shall be an offence against an employee that, by its nature, has a detrimental effect on that employee’s job performance or satisfaction,” the Act reads.
The executive director of the Foundation for Democracy and Governance said the Ministry of Labour was not overseeing the implementation of employment rules and regulations for the common good of employees in the country.
“One of our biggest challenges is that our institution that is supposed to govern issues of labour and recruitment seems to have no effective mechanisms in place to safeguard the employment or even safety of the nationals,” he stated.
He said failure to oversee the employment policy has given the freedom to the private companies to hire people of their choice. He said South Sudanese graduates have been denied jobs since 2011 over what he called false claims over “lack of qualification.”
“If you look at boda-boda riders on the streets, some of them are graduates, they can’t get a job,” Kolok said.