Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka Wogu
The Federal Government has given all companies operating within the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone (OFTZ) 90 days to allow workers unionise, stressing that a situation where only five out of over a hundred companies operating in the zone are unionised is unacceptable and inconsistent with Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution.
Organised labour in the oil and gas industry had threatened to embark on a three-day warning strike to compel oil companies operating in the zone to allow unionisation in compliance with the Nigerian labour laws.
Speaking under the auspices of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), the union warned employers to stop the impunity and injustice being meted out to oil and gas workers in the zone, failing which it threatened to shut down operations in the affected states.
In a bid to avert an industrial crisis, Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, had last weekend summoned a meeting with the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA) and the leadership of the unions in sector.
A communiqué issued at the end of the meeting directed that unions be put in place within 90 days in all the companies operating within the zone in line with the provisions of the law. It further enjoined companies operating within the zone to establish Human Resources/ Industrial Relations Department that shall interface with the unions and the free zone authority.
The Communiqué reads in part: “There are over hundred Companies operating in the Free zone Authority and only about Five (5) are unionised; this is not acceptable and it is inconsistent with Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In line with the provisions of the law, the unions must be put in place within ninety (90) days in all the companies operating within the OGFZA. There shall be put in place a Tripartite Committee made up of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, the Unions, the OGFZA and the representatives of the investors’ forum to monitor the implementation of the foregoing resolutions.
All Awards and judgments delivered by all competent Courts or Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) shall be complied with. All operating Companies within the Zone are to comply with the resolutions contained herein. Based on the provisions of the relevant extant Laws and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, no worker shall be victimized for any role played in the unionisation process and Union activities”.