There is palpable fear in the downstream oil sector over impending job loss following the bill seeking to abolish casualisation of workers and labour outsourcing in Nigeria.
The bill intends to make amendment to the Nigeria’s Labour Act.
Operators in the sector have already hinted that if the ongoing review of the Act currently receiving accelerated hearing at the National Assembly scales through, many people will be thrown out of job.
A document prepared by a conglomerate of oil marketers and made available to LEADERSHIP explained the preparedness of the operators to lay off staff if the position of stakeholders are not compiled and enshrined in the document.
Specifically, a private sector downstream position paper on the proposed review of the Nigerian Labour Act, articulated by the chairperson, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, (MOMAN) Legal and Government Policy Committee, Adaeze Nwakobi, strongly warned of the negative outcome of the review.
LEADERSHIP reports that the house of representatives is currently considering amendments to the Nigerian Labour Act Cap 2004.
The amendment bill, which has passed through the second reading, largely seeks to abolish casualisation of workers in Nigeria and Labour outsourcing.
The ministry of labour is currently reviewing all major Nigerian Labour legislation including Labour Act with the intent to repeal the current Labour Act, with a focus on prohibiting labour outsourcing.
Nwakobi, warned that the downstream companies are very concerned about the far reaching negative implications the amendment Bill portends for the oil and gas industry.
The marketers observed that this is placing pressure on businesses who already ensure workplace benefits are in place for contract/outsourced staff, extended to them by labour contractors which include leave, health management services, pensions, among others, as similarly applicable to their permanent staff.
The downstream sector is therefore seeking the non-passage of the amendment bill based on the subsisting provision of the federal ministry of labour guidelines on Contract Staffing/Outsourcing in the oil and gas industry and the position of the International Labour Organisation(ILO) on labour outsourcing.
They insist that the focus of the law makers should not be to criminalise but to improve on the already existing and globally recognised concept of labour outsourcing to strengthen the Nigerian workforce.
This, Nwakobi argued, will take into consideration the interests of both user enterprises, labour agencies and workers.
Particularly, the marketers recommended that an amendment should spell out the specific circumstances wherein a ‘User Enterprise ‘ will be deemed as a co-employer under the Nigerian legislature and the already existing measures put in place in the guideline and contract staffing/outsourcing in the oil and gas industry should be considered and incorporated in any amendment to the Labour Act. They said this will give it the force of a primary legislation rather than a guideline under the Act and can also be extended to other industries.
They said the penalty provisions in the amendment Bill should include a regularisation window as opposed to immediate imposition of penalty upon default by an employer.
Marketers are already operating near deficit due to non- deregulation of the sector.
They have consistently urged the government for complete deregulation of the downstream sector to attract the needed investment and more job placements.
The chairman of Major Oil Marketers of Nigeria (MOMAN), Oyetunji Oyebanji, said the downstream end of Nigeria’s oil industry requires significant investment to improve service delivery and to generate employment and help in expanding and growing the economy. He said sector needs full and total deregulation with appropriate standards and regulation in terms of consumer protection.
According to him, “Over the last 15 years, we have spent close to N10 trillion subsidising fuel. This is just unsustainable in this environment, and I think posterity will not judge us properly if we do not make the right decisions.”
MOMAN said, if the petroleum downstream sector is to play its pivotal and fundamental role in the resuscitation of the nation’s economy, there is need for full deregulation of the sector.
Oyebanji who is also the managing director/CEO of 11 Plc, formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc, said: “We believe that full and total deregulation with appropriate standards and regulation in terms of consumer protection is the way to go. We believe that we need to work with the government to achieve this at the soonest possible time. It is an industry that requires significant investment to improve service delivery and to generate employment, to help expand and grow the economy, especially at this very trying time.”