Senior oil workers under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has stated that its face-off with indigenous oil 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.
National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the union, Comrade Fortune Obi said in a clarification sent to THISDAY that as an association of senior staff in the oil and gas industry, PENGASSANâ€™s clear mandate, which form the fulcrum of its objectives are â€œjob security for its members, ensure a safe and healthy work environment, improve the terms and conditions of employment, and support and promote legislations in the interest of our members in particular and Nigeria in general.â€
According to him, the association cannot fold its arms when some organisations, especially the indigenous companies, who ought to be defending the Constitution of the country and protecting the rights of their fellow Nigerians, are flagrantly disobeying the laws and enslaving their fellow countrymen and women.
â€œThe 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 sack of workers who showed interest in the membership of the union,â€ Obi said.
He alleged that the penchant for managements of indigenous oil companies, especially their directorsâ€™ craze for acquisition of wealth and exhibition of it through the purchase and use of exotic cars and private jets while disregarding their employeesâ€™ welfare has been a bane in prudent management of such organizations.
â€œThe preference for cheap labour and slave work as well as blatant disregard to the rule of law, while flauntingtheir connection with the political classin total disregard of Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Article 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoplesâ€™Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, ILO Conventions 89 and 98and even the OECD guidelines which address Freedom of Association,â€ he said.
â€œTheir disdain for the extant labour laws and other international treaties, particularly the ILO Treaties, to which Nigeria is a signatory and guarantee workers right to belong to any union of their choice and right to Collective Bargaining,does not only hamper industrial harmony but also jeopardise the welfare of their employees, who incidentally are our members in the industry,â€ he added.
He further stated that the Nigerian indigenous companies operating in the oil and gas industry have always run foul of respecting established global labour laws and in particular the laws of the country.
â€œWhy is it that it is only the indigenous employers that run foul of the right to unionisation which is allowed by the IOCs? 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 severing the workers from their jobs or rendering those workers redundant?,â€ he queried.
He reminded the companies that 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.