Oil and gas workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, have accused officials of government of strongly backing the multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria in their open and hidden anti- labour policies over the years of their operation in Nigeria.
The unions said that such is obviously against their primary and constitutional duty of protecting the Nigerian workers who are directly or indirectly working in the oil and gas sector or any other sector of the economy.
Speaking in Abuja yesterday at a meeting with the federal government to resolve some labour issues, particularly as it concerns the plan by the oil firms to embark on massive sack of working, in response to current state of the oil and gas at the international market, the President of NUPENG, Comrade Igwe Achese, told the representatives of the federal government and the Ministers of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and James Ocholi, as well as other officials of the ministry that it is high time the federal government revisit all previous agreements on peaceful industrial relations and implement them, rather than holding long hour meetings that most times yield no positive result.
With emphasis on the plan sack of workers, the labour leaders reminded the oil firms of days of “Oil boom” whence the make huge profit with little or no good plans for the workers, threatening that such plans of mass retrenchment would obviously result in disruption of industrial peace and harmony in the industry, with ripple effect on the economy of the country.
Top management of some oil companies at the meeting reminded the gathering that the current state of the industry requires that some strict measures be implemented to keep the firms afloat.
The Executive Secretary of ExxonMobile Nigeria, Mr. Udom Inoye said in his remark said, “We all know that current state of the oil and gas industry which has also affected the economy. We have to, also be sincere to ourselves that the industry and the economy is obviously bleeding and requires that extreme measure is taken to cut cost of which failure will result in total collapse.
Earlier, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, reminded the oil firms and labour unions that Nigerian economy is currently bleeding and need no such industrial rancor at the point.
He appealed to all parties to shield their sword and embrace the dialogue opportunity provided by the government, thus presenting their grievances for consideration by all parties with the view to arriving at a common ground.
The Minister admitted the challenges in the oil and gas industry is peculiar to Nigeria and would not last forever. He suggested to the oil firms to consider halting fresh engagement of workers instead of sacking the already existing ones, considering their commitments and experiences in the industry.