CNOOC dismisses claims of salary disparity against Bunyoro native drivers

Kingfisher Development Area at Buhuka landing site of Lake Albert (Mwitanzige) in Kyangwali Sub-county, Kikuube District. (Image: File)

China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has dismissed allegations made by a section of its workers that their employed drivers who are native of Bunyoro Region are given less allowances compared to those hailing from other areas.

A source that preferred its identity to be withheld told Kazi-njema online radio reporter that their allowances were less by Shs30,000 yet they all reside in the camp down the Kingfisher Development Area (KDA).

The source also claimed that the company had even attempted to retract the allowances that it had paid to some of them last year but drivers threatened to call for industrial action.

Ms Aminah Bukenya, the Media and Publicity Supervisor at the CNOOC Uganda Limited, has dismissed the claims as untrue.

“The information given is wrong. Drivers’ allowances are paid out on a clear and specific Facilitation Procedure and as per employment contract the drivers have with our service provider. There is no discrimination in allowances among drivers that work at CNOOC Uganda Limited on the basis of being native to Bunyoro region,” she said.

The Chairman Hoima Drivers Association, Mr Moses Biteekerezo, could not confirm the claims but said grievances have been flowing against some sub-contractors in the oil and gas sector.

“They talk of welfare in form of allowances and days off work compared to their bosses. They also say most sub-contractors don’t give allowances,” he said.

Mr Biteekerezo also called upon the oil sector regulator to pick interest in following up whether the oil companies still give special attention to native drivers while recruiting.

According to him, the number of local drivers being taken in has significantly reduced despite many having responded to the call to train for heavy machine operations and acquiring defensive driving skills and licence.

Ms Gloria Sebikari, the Manager Corporate Affairs at the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), said the Authority had not officially received a specific complaint on salary disparity based on nativity.

She, however, said the oil and gas sector is regulated in line with the country’s policies, laws and regulations on labour related issues and best practice. 

Salary payments should be equitable and commensurate with the job roles, she added.

Ms Sebikari, on the other side, highlighted the need to appreciate that other factors such as geographical location, experience, away from home allowances, certifications and negotiation may contribute to the determination of salaries and/or related allowances especially in the absence of a minimum wage.

Asked about if there are any labour related grievances reported in the sector before this, she said that the Authority had engaged the companies that had concerns and agreed on a way forward.

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