The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), has identified the penchant for cheap labour by the employers as bane of the growing crisis in the oil and gas sector.
The Union said it wondered why managing directors in the industry, are riding exotic cars and jets at detriment of workers who are forced to take-home paltry pay and are also being denied the chance of belonging to unions.
Noting that the indigenous operators have been deliberately frustrating the workers from unionism in order to continue rob them the opportunity of speaking with one voice, PENGASSAN vowed not again fold its arms and allow such to continue.
Describing hatred for unionism by the managers in the oil and gas industry as reason for the crisis, PENGASSAN chided the indigenous oil and gas employers, noting that their move could erode the gains recorded in the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act (NOGICD) of 2010, even as the Union warned that billions of dollars staked by government and investors to grow local capacity for in-country delivery of oil industry jobs may be a mirage if the indigenous firms are not promptly cautioned.
As a result, the Union warned that should there be any slip in the progress made with NOGICD Act, indigenous firms should be held liable because of their desire for cutting corners and bending the rules in their favour to the detriment of extant labour laws.
According to the National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Fortune Obi “Our attention has been drawn to a news story sponsored by the indigenous operators in the oil and gas industry accusing PENGASSAN of triggering an impending catastrophe in the nation’s oil and gas industry following unsuccessful bid by indigenous companies to retain indigenous workers they groomed under various capacity building programmes that took substantial investments.
“While we would not discountenance the fact that we have challenges with the indigenous operators in the industry, it is pertinent to categorically state that our face off with the companies was premised on their lack of respect for the laws of the land and constitutional provisions guiding their operations and relationship with their employees, especially as regards the rights and privileges of the workers.”
Reiterating its stand, Obi stressed that “PENGASSAN is an association of senior staff in the oil and gas industry and the clear mandate which form the fulcrum of its objectives are job security for our members, ensure a safe and healthy work environment, improve the terms and conditions of employment, and support and promote legislations in the interest of our members in particular and Nigeria in general.
“In the light of this, our Association cannot fold its arms when some organisations, especially the indigenous companies, who ought to be defending the Constitution of the country and protecting the rights of their fellow Nigerians, are flagrantly disobeying the laws and enslaving their fellow countrymen and women.
“The real issue between our Association and the indigenous operators is their hatred for unionism under any guise but not due to demand for excessive exit package as alleged in the news story. This phobia for unionism leads to immediate sack of workers who showed interest in the membership of the union.”
In addition, PENGASSAN stated that “The penchant for managements of indigenous oil companies, especially their directors’ craze for acquisition of wealth and exhibition of it through the purchase and use of exotic cars and private jets while disregarding their employees’ welfare has been a bane in prudent management of such organizations and their resources forgetting that these workers are the golden goose that lay the golden egg.
“The preference for cheap labour and slave work as well as blatant disregard to the rule of law, while flaunting their connection with the political class in total disregard of Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, ILO Conventions 89 and 98 and even the OECD guidelines which address Freedom of Association. Their disdain for the extant labour laws and other international treaties, particularly the ILO Treaties, to which Nigeria is a signatory and guarantee workers right to belong to any union of their choice and right to Collective Bargaining, does not only hamper industrial harmony but also jeopardise the welfare of their employees, who incidentally are our members in the industry.”