…says 4000 workers have lost jobs in oil and gas sector
Chris Steven, Abuja
The leadership of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has directed all its members across the country to embark on a three-day warning strike as from 12am of Wednesday, January 11, 2017 to force government attention at some challenging issues in the oil and gas sector..
President of the union, Comrade Igwe Achese who gave the warning strike directive in Abuja on Tuesday at the end of the emergency meeting of NUPENG National Executive Council (NEC) however said that the outcome of the meeting to be held with the Federal Government representatives and leaders of the union today (Wednesday) would determine whether the strike would continue beyond three days or not.
The emergency NEC meeting according to him was called to review various issues of contention in the oil and gas sector including casualisation of workers, job insecurity and bulkanisation of divestment by Shell and other multinational companies and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)
He also commended the role played by Director General of Department of State Security (DSS) Lawal Daura, to avert the warning strike.
The NUPENG President explained that the warning strike which was earlier slated for November 2016, was postponed till January 2017 in order to allow Nigerians to enjoy the festive period without further hardship.
Achese who doubles as Vice President of the newly created labour center, United Labour Congress (ULC) lamented that over 4,000 workers have so far been laid off as a result of the ongoing divestment in the oil and gas sector.
While condemning what he described as the lackadaisical attitude of regulatory agencies in addressing various issues raised by the Union since May 2016, he alleged that there was compromise on the part of the regulatory agencies which failed to ensure adherence to Nigerian labour laws and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.
He also lamented the exit of notable oil companies from the country due to harsh business environment, which according to him has thrown many workers out of job noting multinationals such as Halliburton, Pan Oceanic, Sea Drill are at the verge of leaving Nigeria
“We talk about job losses, it does not only include buy over by AMCON, alone. As you are aware, a lot of companies in the sector have folded up and moved out of this country. We have seen clearly and we have our record and Nigerians in that sector, we have lost close to 4,000 workers and more are still about leaving.
“As I’m talking to you, Halliburton is about to close shop, they are in the bid of negotiating terminal benefits for the workers which is the key issue. Transfuxen has folded up, SIPEN has folded, you can see the number of companies that are going. Sea Drill just recently about two of their drills left Nigerian shores and the workers have just been asked to leave. These are the issues we are talking about,” he lamented.
While noting that the spate of casualisation of workers by Mobil, Shell, Total and other oil majors undermine the Nigerian labour laws, Achese lamented that the Federal Government has also failed to play its role in this regard.
It would be recalled that President of ULC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, had on Sunday urged Federal Government, owner of Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) to immediately intervene in this matter by ordering AMCON to instruct the Management of Seawolf to pay workers their terminal benefits in line with the laws of our nation governing workplace relations.
This, he assured “will avert any impending crisis and diffuse to a large extent the tension in the sector. If nothing is done, we shall be under obligation to give NUPENG every backing it needs in this legitimate pursuit. Governance we believe ought to be focused primarily on the protection of the citizenry and not exploitation and profit.
“As part of the anti-corruption drive, we call upon the Federal Government to quickly investigate the various AMCON deals that saw the take-over of Seawolf by the Agency and its various operations since the inception of the deal.
“This will clear the air on the alleged fraud that has been perpetrated and may open the eyes of the Federal Government to the sleaze that may have gone on during the AMCON take-over of many organisations.
“We also use this opportunity to call on various managements in all sectors of the national economy especially the oil and gas sector to at all times seek total compliance with the relevant laws of Nigeria as it relates to the treatment of workers. It is only by staying with the laws governing relations in the workplace that we can ensure continuous industrial relations harmony in the economy.
“Our decision to wade into this matter is borne out of the need to avert the consequences that the disruption in supply of petroleum products will cause Nigerian masses, businesses and Nigerian workers,” Ajaero said.