The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has commended efforts by the House of Representatives to ensure the passage of a bill seeking to amend the Labour Act and criminalise casualisation of workers.
According to a statement jointly signed by the National President of NUPENG, Mr. Williams Akporeha, and General Secretary, Mr. Afolabi Olawale, with the legislative intervention that has passed the second reading, NUPENG as a custodian of blue-collar workers in the oil and gas sector was particularly excited about the bill.
They explained that it had been discovered that Section eight of the bill provides that every worker shall enjoy full employment benefits as a permanent staff after six months of engagement, “and that any employer who disengages a worker after a period of six months from the date of first engagement without regularising the worker’s employment shall at the date of disengagement pay to the worker full salary, allowances and entitlements due to a permanent staff for two months provided the worker has not been found liable of any criminal act involving fraud resulting to financial loss to the company amongst other things.”
The statement further noted that the issue of workers’ casualisation had heightened crimes and socio dislocations the country.
“This has particularly caused our union and members lots of pains, setbacks, anguish and agonies for decades. Unfortunately, some exploitative and manipulative multinational companies and their local collaborators in the oil and gas industry have over the years being exploiting gaps in our Labour laws to flippantly treat Nigerians oil and gas workers with disdain and indecent working conditions.
“Thankfully, our visionary federal parliamentarians are gallantly rising to the occasion in ameliorating the pitiable situation of Nigerian workers. “Through their legislative powers, they have shown courage and capacity to review the country’s labour Act to cater to the needs of the Nigerian workers with the intention of addressing some of the contemporary labour challenges in the larger interest of the working people in the oil and gas industry,” the statement added.
The union commended the sponsor of the bill, Hon. Olawale Raji, a lawmaker representing Epe Federal Constituency in Lagos State and the leadership of the National Assembly.
“While we are also in similar vein calling on our distinguished senators to emulate this patriotic zeal of the House by speedily concurring to this remarkable bill, we request that Employers who dissuade workers from getting unionized should also be sanctioned and penalised.
“To this extent, NUPENG can profoundly say this is a new dawn in the annals of industrial relations practice in Nigeria, a season whereby workers’ confidence could be restored and a period where workers will no longer suffer indecent workplace treatment, job insecurity and other forms of precarious work conditions that often expose them to health risks, exploitation, and depression.
“NUPENG therefore urges the National Assembly leadership to count on our support at any time for the success of this bill whether at the public hearing stage or any other time which they may deem necessary. It is our firm belief and expectation that this bill will be speedily passed and meet presidential assent before the end of second quarter of 2020.”