Oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers have said the Petroleum Industry Bill must ensure that firms operating in the oil and gas industry do not use the law as a ploy to disengage indigenous workers.
They said the PIB should give the regulatory agency the power to protect the jobs of Nigerians working in the industry “such that no Nigerian will be relieved of his/her job without the approval in writing of the regulator.”
The unions stated this in a joint memorandum to the Senate Joint Committee on the PIB, a copy of which was made available to our correspondent on Friday.
Describing labour as one of the most critical factors in the production process, NUPENG and PENGASSAN said the PIB must, therefore, make provisions that recognise and uphold the interest and welfare of workers.
“Specifically, the following minimum requirements with regards to labour issues should be met: Ensure the mandatory recognition of the right to freedom of association and effective bargaining by all companies operating or doing business in the Nigerian oil and gas industry irrespective of where they are located,” it stated.
The unions added that the PIB must ensure compliance by all companies operating in the Nigerian oil and gas industry with all international labour conventions that had been ratified by Nigeria; the collective agreements with the labour unions, and the extant labour laws as a minimum in all their dealings with the indigenous workers and their representatives.
They said it must ensure that all workers in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and all other government agencies to be impacted by the PIB should transit to the new companies/agencies on terms and conditions no less favourable than their present conditions.
“This is crucial to the successful take-off of these agencies, the national oil company and the PIB itself,” the unions said.
According to them, proper arrangements must be made so that the liabilities of the NNPC and other agencies to their staff such as pensions to retired and existing employees are adequately provided for prior to the effective commencement date of the PIB.
The unions said the PIB must also ensure that all workers in the oil industry to be impacted by the PIB should not be asked to leave service until a minimum of five years after transition.
“In addition, after five years, the union must be involved in re-organisation/right-sizing cum negotiation of exiting staff,” they added.