By Victor Ahiuma-Young
PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has threatened to shut down the oil industry over alleged increasing casualisation of workers and other forms of unfair employment practices by oil companies operating in Nigeria.
Chairman of PENGASSAN, Lagos zone, Mr Sunday F. Ognin, said this while speaking at a workshop in Ibadan, with the theme â€œOil Industry Reforms: Challenges for Stakeholdersâ€, called on the Federal Government to call the oil companies to order through its relevant agencies in the interest of peace.
He posited that the association had resolved to tackle the issue of casualisation of workers and other forms of unfair employment practices even if it meant shutting down the industry to instil the culture of decent employment practices.
According to him: â€œOne issue that has been a thorn in our flesh is that of contract staffing and casualization of Nigerians. In the world over, contract staff earns more than the permanent staff because management recognized the fact that contract staff do not have the welfare scheme that are enjoyed by the pensionable and permanent staff. But in Nigeria the reverse is the case, as it is not the practice as obtainable in other parts of the world”.
Multinational companies see contract staffing as being synonymous with casualisation, cheap labour and in almost all cases result in what can be tagged â€œslave labourâ€. For instance, a permanent staff in an oil company may be earning N100,000 excluding other allowances.
He at times enjoys the right to freedom of association, right to unionization which makes him able to participate in consultative forum to determine his career path and gains from the company and at the end, has pension and gratuity.
On the other hand, the contract staff earns a total emolument of N50,000, he is denied the right to unionize and therefore denied the right to freedom of association and lawful assembly. He has no platform for collective bargaining process, neither can he negotiate his employment welfare and well-being and has no enhanced terminal benefits, among others.
So, the man wastes the best part of his life for an organisation and he is unable to do any other hobby or invest his energy in areas that can guarantee his future during this active life, and at the end retires a pauper, while the company he helped to build declares billions of profit every year.
This group of people eats up their future and psychologically dies gradually while on active service. Their children are indirectly affected by this ignoble action of the management. The question then is, Is this fair? What is good for the goose should also be good enough for the gander. A worker without a future and a say in matters relating to his own growth is a slave. We must not allow this attitude to continue.