By Michael Oche, Geneva
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), has dragged the major International Oil Companies (IOCs) before the International Labour Organization (ILO) Committee on the Application of Standards, over continued issues of contract staffing and poor welfare packages
The companies include SHELL petroleum, Chevron, Mobil, NAOC-AGIP and Total E&P
President of NUPENG, Comrade Williams Akporena, who presented the petition to the committee at the ongoing 107th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), described the policies of the companies as anti-Labour.
He alleged that these policies of the oil companies contravenes ILO conventions and extant Labour law in Nigeria, as they deny workers the right to unionise
In his presentation titled: “International Oil and Gas Companies repressive anti-Labour activities in Nigeria,” the NUPENG president said the status of NUPENG as a trade union organisation in terms of membership, financial capacity and ability to adequately organize and represent Nigerian Oil and Gas workers has been adversely affected by repressive anti labour/union activities of Multinational Oil Companies.
He said: “The struggle against this form of workers exploitation is almost three decades old, and it has been a herculean task, membership of the union has been seriously depleted, indecent work entrenched resulting into upsurge in crime and social dislocations and defiant behaviours.
“These International Oil Companies through various policies and practices entrenched anti labour/union organizing situation in the Nigeria oil and gas industry.”
These anti-labour and anti-union situation, according to him, include refusal to allow unionization of Contract and service contracts workers; Fragmentation of Contracts into thousands to frustrate the efforts of the union in organizing precarious and making worker to sign pre engagement non membership of union, and this makes precarious workers dread associating with the union.
It also includes, treating labour relations issues with contempt and disdain to the extent of refusing implementation on rulings of Industrial Arbitration Panels whenever it goes against the company.
The NUPENG president also pointed out that the wages pay to workers by the IOCs in Nigeria are so poor and very ridiculous; adding that an average precarious worker is paid less than $200 per month.
He said: “As a result of the prevalent practice of casual/contract employment policy by these Multinationals, the workers are denied collective bargaining power. And in some instances, where a CBA is signed, the all powerful multinationals through their contractors refuse to implement despite all entreaties.
“More worrisome is the wicked elopement of Contract workers severance benefits by Contactors to these IOCs. A Nigerian would work under harsh and hard conditions for several years receiving peanuts and yet while the contract ends, his/her severance benefits are taken away by contractors hired by an international oil company. Most times when confronted they feign ignorance of the where about of the contractor.
“The health and Safety conditions of work of these worker is disheartening, they are constantly exposed to hazardous chemical, no Personal protective equipment, no access to medical facility, no annual vacation, no insurance cover, long hours of work with no time off from work.”
He stated that the practice of casualisation and precarious work in the Nigerian oil and gas industry was introduced and entrenched by SHELL and other IOCs followed.
He claimed that SHELL in the last 20 years has stopped employing workers on permanent basis.
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