Contributor's Opinion

Opinion: How salaries disparity amounts to discrimination

Salaries Disparity Between South Sudanese Nationals and International Colleagues Amount to remuneration Discrimination

By Longar Mathiec Wol, Juba, South Sudan,

The unmatched battle between the South Sudanese pound against the US Dollar(Photo credit: Nyamilepedia)
The unmatched battle between the South Sudanese pound against the US Dollar(Photo credit: Nyamilepedia)

Sep 26, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) — There have been many complaints raised by South Sudanese nationals concerning the remuneration discrimination system against them in many international organizations and companies.This practice has been in place for far too long, but escape government attentions for many reasons that had been technically deployed to avert its attentions. This harmful practice is either imposed on our nationals by their own fellow South Sudanese in preference for foreign workers or foreigners who run companies or organization in the country. Exploiting the loopholes in our labor laws, these employers continue to exploit our nationals on the following grounds:

First, expertise ground – Most of organizations continue to sideline South Sudanese experts and import the labor under the so call expertise to work in many positions in the country including some of the positions that do not require expertise. The international organizations and companies or ungrateful local companies continue to employ their foreign relatives and friends on the ground that they are experts. If expertism betrayed us, why don’t we bring these foreigners on contractual basis with specific terms and conditions to train South Sudanese at specify period and leave the country as South Sudanese take over. How long are they going to work for us?

The saddening part is when someone brings a foreigner to come and drive, make tea, cook, clean in South Sudan. Do the above jobs categories require any extra qualification that deserve foreign expertise in exclusion of South Sudanese? Do you want to tell the nation that our own drivers with their licenses can’t put vehicles on the road? Where do you categorize these foreigners or we still call them experts or what exceptional qualification do the posses that South Sudanese may not have or you want to tell us that South Sudanese can’t do well in these areas. Do you want to say you can’t get South Sudanese who can drive your car in Juba or a South Sudanese who can cook tea or cleaning your offices. This is a ruffianism of our nation at its best.

When South Sudanese who undergone such painful experience come forward to explain their bitter part of their experiences some might shed tears. We have been exploited to the maximum. Our job seekers had been subjected to unimaginable suffering to get jobs in these organizations. Some had to go through sexual harassment or sexual favors in exchange for jobor promise them salaries for few months when offer a job to these indiscipline greedy human resources officers within these organizations.

To revisit our expertise story, imagine studying at the same university with your colleague scoring same grades sometimes better than them and over sudden you found them being recruited and put a head of you on the ground of being experts,simply because your South Sudanism betrayed you. What expertise do such people possess to make them more expert than their South Sudanese counterparts they went to school and studied together. If that is not call discrimination then I don’t know which other name you call it. Can you imagine receptionists who are foreigner are getting paid handsomely,compare to South Sudanese colleagues working in higher positions than them who are being paid peanut simply, because they are South Sudanese. The same people that are paid peanuts are the ones going to the field in almost their entire working period in that organization. Does being South Sudanese become a crime in our own country?

Some of us who had been to our neighboring countries, it is unusual to see South Sudanese working in those countries. There are only four categories of South Sudan I have seen working in those countries: the self employed, students doing internship, community service, work study and these jobs are not officially recognize. They are treated as causal, you will never find a South Sudanese names in government pay sheet no matter how qualified they might be.

In our South Sudan, the whole thing is completely different, there are high probability that some organizations’ employees are all foreigners starting from watchmen to the cleaners. As time goes we will realize the disadvantages of allowing the foreigners to control some section of our country’s economy. This notion that foreigners are better than our own nationals if not abolish will greatly have effect on our economic performance. Take example, one week ago when the Ethiopian and Eritrean water tanks’ drivers when on strike, it was felt across Juba till we gave in on their demand to increase the prices. To them the concern is how much they collect in a day not how many lives safe in a day, the primary objective is to collect as much as they can in a day. Saving lives comes as secondary objective.

To these organizations and companies they see nothing wrong with their discriminative policies, because there are no consequences, no authority to fear. We let down and betrayed our own nation and the cause we fought for-for many years.

The South Sudan where South Sudanese become masters of their own destiny is being lost at our watch and seems unattainable. Can we do something practical on these or do we need to see xenophobic act God forbid for us to wake up. Something need to be done urgently. Why would a government shy away of asking for statistics of employees of all the organizations operating in South Sudan to ascertain how many foreigners and South Sudanese working with these organizations including UN and at what capacity in organizations’ hierarchies are South Sudanese stationed.

It is normal for any country to fight for the rights of its citizens of which South Sudan is not exceptional. It was last year in Kenya when the minister of Interior order for registration and screening of all the foreigners workers working in Kenya. The sole objective was to find out to whether these foreigners are occupying vacancies that could be occupied by Kenyans or not.To identify to whether the foreigners occupying these positions brought under the excuses of expertise were advertised and there were no Kenyans qualified to fill the vacancies, if no why would an organization or employer go ahead and assumed there were no qualified Kenyans or personnel to do that job. That is exactly what South Sudan government should do. Telling us there are no South Sudanese accountants, International experts or Information technology experts is a big lie that no one can buy it from you, we have in abundance, leave alone importing drivers, cooks, and cleaners which in short should be classified under crime against jobless South Sudanese.

The second excuse of employing foreigners is experience: Most of organizations are avoiding recruiting South Sudanese on the ground that they are not experienced. Well, that sound like a concrete argument, but the matter of fact is that there is no universities where experience lessons are taken, people work to gain experience. Where did the people you are calling experienced today got their experience from; they got them from their respective countries where they had been given an opportunity to work while inexperience. What is wrong with South Sudanese starting works inexperience till they gain experience. Till when are we going to import experiences and abandon our own people to linger in destitute. When the experiences is being used as scapegoat to exclude South Sudanese from holding big positions, the contrary on the ground speaker louder. These so call experienced workers are not as experienced as we think, the main experience the posses is being foreigners.

Sometimes our nationals have to swallow the pride and endure some humiliation for them to put a food on the table. Look at the humiliation where the person who hold diploma or less qualification either in same university you did your degree or different institution is put a head of you on the basis of expertise and experience and you have to continue to endure, because if you leave you might not get another job any time soon with poorly written recommendation in your possession and with economic hardship you have no option, but to live under that humiliation. Junubins! why? Why would we become enemies of our own, why are we doing this to ourselves. Where is the ministry of labor? I know as of now this noble ministry is being headed by action oriented army general, what I don’t know is why he is not acting or junubins are not coming forward with their situations for help. I know there are challenges when it comes to reporting such cases sometimes with bureaucracy in public service in general and with our demoralize civil servants don’t expect changes anytime soon.

Assuming our notion is true that our people are not experts and lack experiences, can someone tell me where on planet earth a cleaner who is a foreigner could earn 500% times that of poor local South Sudanese. What qualification does the foreign cleaner has to earn highly compare to South Sudanese with degree who earn less. Is that the kind of nation we aspire to have? A nation where our citizens are treated like second class in their own country. Why? Why would a cleaner earn USD 5000 that is equivalent to SSP 2.5 million in current parallel market rate while some South Sudanese officials earn less than SSP 100,000 which is equivalent to USD 200. Where did we go wrong, where are we heading? Why are we taking our own people for granted. Imagine the same person that earn less than SSP 100,0000 don’t have means of transport, they are using some of that little pays as transport fare, they don’t have accommodation, they have to rent far away from the city center since they can’t afford to rent in prime residential areas while the same foreigner earning USD 5000 had been given cars, accommodation and many other necessities.

The worse part is that the same junubi earning less is the one toiling under scorching sun all the time going to the field while that foreigner with everything is comfortably sitting in office under air condition doing a lot of nothing or sometimes minimal work of signing few papers. They go to the field riding on motor bikes as their means of transport and above all they are not insured anytime they got knock down behind bikes, that marks the end of anecdote. Their colleagues who are foreigners will just give blurry description of them that they were good people. They will pretend to sympathize and comfort the family and the rest become a story.

The organization that offer them an operose activities to get an accident distant itself and take no responsibility, no life insurance as I mentioned to help the rest of the family members left behind. Hence, with the breadwinner gone and the dependents left to suffer. The same foreigners earning highly had been comprehensively insured, they have access to some of the best medical facilities in the region. Poor us, what have we done wrong to deserve such kind of treatment in our own country? All I am saying is not that South Sudanese should be given special treatment or status from other nationals, all  I am saying is that they should be treated equal. There is no supper human in the name of a foreigner, all of us are created equal and deserve equal treatment.

There is no doubt that Sudan had badly marginalized us, but during one Sudan, you can hardly see foreigners working in public offices except some few working with international organizations that concentrate mainly in the Southern part of Sudan that was SPLM liberated and administered area, but in our South Sudan foreigners work not only in private sector but in public service, not just public service but they hold big positions. In that manner do we still think we own the nation, what security guarantee do you have to trust foreigner with national matters. Have we forgotten that nations go to war when there are unresolvable misunderstandings. What do you think these foreigners will be doing?  Off course, yes they will be spying and provide security report to their respective countries.The martyrs who sacrifice their lives on assumption that they rest who will remain behind will be free and enjoy the fruits of their painful toil might not like it if they wake up today. All that will come to their minds is betrayal and death in vain.

This illegal habit had gone unpunish for sometimes though there are international recognized institutions dealing with such cases,most of their directives fall in deaf ears. One of such organizations is International Labor Organization that is universally tasked to work with various countries to put in place necessary laws and guidelines to regulate the labor. In its convention of 1958 on Discrimination (Employment and occupation) number 111 clearly put in place the grounds of identifying employment discrimination. According to article 1(a) of that convention says “Any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin which has effect on nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment of employment or occupation” is to be considered as employment and occupation discrimination.

Looking at South Sudan situation and the Salaries disparity gap between South Sudanese nationals and international colleagues it simply amount to remuneration discrimination. In our country most of unaccepted practices are being rehearsed broad day light. If that was not the case, I don’t see a good reason to why a south Sudanese with same qualification could be left within the country and import foreigners to come and do a job that could easily be done by them.

Some might use exaggerated experiences as basis of exclusion. Well, could that be one of many reasons to why young and highly qualified South Sudanese are rendered useless in their own country. Why would an organization advertise junior position’s job vacancy with 5 to 10 years working experience knowing that our independence has never gone beyond that range; do they know that before independence we did not have a nation of our own where we can freely work to gain experiences. If they know and continue to do this to us then they are not far away from colonizers. That intentional exclusion amount to discrimination and marginalization. Many South Sudanese had been demanding to be shown doors of experience universities, but the claimants go mum.

Finally, to put this remuneration discrimination against our nationals to an end at it best the only hope left is government and that is why government’s intervention is urgently needed in thwarting this alarming and desperate situation.

God bless South Sudan.

The author, Longar Mathiec Wol, is a concern citizen who can be reached via his email address: lonngarmathiech@gmail.com

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