Accuse companies of enslaving workers
Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigerian (PENGASSAN) have expressed regrets over the conducts of Companies owned by Nigerians toward the employment and engagement of fellow indigenes.
The union said that companies owned and managed by Nigerians treat workers as slaves and sack them at will.
TUC stated this during the recent picketing of Specialty Drilling Fluid (SDF), an indigenous oil servicing firm operational in the Niger Delta, by PENGASSAN for allegedly violated various terms of engagement of their staff members.
Addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, TUC Chairman, Rivers State, Comrade Austin Jonah, said the people were crying for indigenous companies, but worried that companies owned by Nigerians are failing the people of the nation.
Jonah said, “We are supporting the PENGASSAN in their action against SDF. TUC will make sure that any action PENGASSAN will take that we support them to the fullest. If it means shorting down we will. We will call those involved to see how these workers should be giving their money.
“We are talking of local content, today Nigerians have companies in the oil and gas sectors, but they are punishing their fellow Nigerians. They will not pay them their salaries and other entitlements as at when due.
“They will engage them as casual workers for ten years and sack them at will. But the extant law only allows that a worker be in casual status for three months, if you still need the services of the person you permanent them. Is that how we are going to enjoy the local content? If this is the way then, they have started disappointing Nigerians.”
Earlier, the Chairman, Port Harcourt Zone of PENGASSAN, Com. Azubuike Azubuike, stated that Nigerian workers in SDF are treated without respect.
Azubuike noted every attempt made to ensure that SDF pays salary arrears owed worker had failed and called Nigerians to prevail in the matter to avoid national industrial action.
Azubuike said, “It has become imperative that the public should know what the workers are passing through especially in the places our brothers are holding sway as owners of organization. SDF for the past 12 years has been punishing the staff working for them. They work without any benefit.
“The collective bargain agreement is not been fulfilled despite the fact of meetings to reach agreement. The MD, Mr. Tony Eze, has refused to pay the workers their entitlements. The workers tried to picket the company, but the MD hired thugs and chased them away.
“Since 2008 we have been signed several communiqué to ensure good relationship between the company and its workers. If things are not done in the proper way we will move the picketing to another stage. They cannot enslave their workers. People have worked for 10 years without employment letter so somebody can be sacked any day.”
When contacted, the Managing Director of SDF, Mr. Tony Eze, said he does not have any case with PENGASSEN and declined further statement of the issue