KAMPALA: About 100 local staff of Total E&P [Uganda], a subsidiary of Total SA, one of the three oil companies licenced to operate in Albertine Graben have laid down tools until further notice in protest of “unfair and harsh working conditions.”
The strike called yesterday, according to insiders, is the climax of several months of internal apprehension and hushed grumbling that management had for long sought to contain through reprimanding and intimidation of staff.
“Management is willing to enforce tough deadlines that employees have gladly honoured for the benefit of the Total brand. Sadly, management has refused to act on employees’s grievances that have been raised since 2013,” a staff memo calling for the strike read in part.
The memo indicated that last year, management constituted a staff-led committee to review various employee concerns contained in a survey that was conducted in 2015. The team was to come up with action points of redress specifically on remuneration and benefits, training and career development, and communication and leadership.
“Following this daunting task, the committee presented the actions to management” which they [management] promised to discuss and get back to staff. At one of the staff retreats held on September 2, the General Manager Fayemi Adewade, pledged to have the worker’s grievances sorted out by January 2017.
Total owns majority stake in Uganda’s budding petroleum industry and maintains sizeable local workforce of about 100 from the initial 174 that was trimmed at the beginning of 2015 due to plunging oil prices. The company also employs the most number of expatriates, several of them in top managerial positions.
The last ministry of Energy report for 2015, before the retrenchments, showed that the 174 local staff were paid Shs661 million while the expatriates bagged Shs2.1b in previous year.
“Looking at the current situation, management is still unwilling, dishonest, disrespectful and have shown no interest to honour their promises and deadlines.”
The staff vowed that the industrial action will continue until among other actions, a signed declaration for immediate review of salaries and benefits of nationals with clearly stated timeliness, declaration stating deadline by which national staff should know their career development paths and a declaration concerning communication and leadership gaps plaguing Yusuf-Lule road based body, are implemented.
Total’s corporate affairs director for Africa, Ahlem Friga-Noy did not readily respond to our email inquiries over the matter.