The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has alleged that Nigerian indigenous companies operating in the oil and gas industry violating established global labour laws and, in particular, the laws of the country.
PENGASSAN said on Wednesday that its attention had been drawn to a news story (not in The PUNCH), allegedly sponsored by the indigenous operators in the industry, accusing the association of triggering an impending catastrophe in the industry following the unsuccessful bid by such firms to retain workers they groomed under various capacity-building programmes.
“While we would not discountenance the fact that we have challenges with the indigenous operators, 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,” the union’s National Public Relations Officer, Fortune Obi, said in a statement.
According to him, the clear mandate of the PENGASSAN is to ensure job security for its members, ensure a safe and healthy work environment, improve the terms and conditions of employment, support and promote legislations in the interest of its members in particular and Nigeria in general.
He said the association could not fold its arms when some organisations, especially the indigenous companies that “ought to be defending the Constitution of the country and protecting the rights of their fellow Nigerians were flagrantly disobeying the laws and enslaving their fellow countrymen and women.”
He said, “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 sacking of workers who showed interest in the membership of the union.
“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 the bane of prudent management of such organisations’ resources.”
The union accused the indigenous firms of failing to respect the Collective Bargaining Agreements legally signed by them, adding, “Or is it out of place for the workers to ask for a CBA to guide their dealings with their employers?
“Why is it that it is only the indigenous employers that go against the right to unionisation, which is allowed by the IOCs (international oil companies)? If they have issues with the implementation of the CBA, why will they not go back to the table with the employee representatives instead of embarking on cheap blackmail, baseless attacks on the integrity of PENGASSAN and unilateral decision of sacking the workers from their jobs or rendering those workers redundant?”
PENGASSAN said the Nigerian Content Law was enacted to encourage Nigerians to take ownership of the operations in the industry through the transfer of technical know-how and use of local raw materials.
It said, “The Act draws strength from the countless struggles of PENGASSAN and NUPENG for the development of Nigerian content and Nigerianisation of the oil and gas industry. PENGASSAN has always championed the struggle for the increased participation of Nigerians in the industry.
“PENGASSAN believes in robust relationship that is mutually beneficial. We fought for the Local Content Law that these indigenous companies are currently benefiting from and they should, therefore, treat their workers with respect and as social partners.”