By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
In what might appear like a pledge of absolute loyalty to the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has promised maximum industrial peace in the oil and gas sector under the new regime.
PENGASSAN President Comrade Babatunde Ogun affirmed this when he led officials of the association on a courtesy call on the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu in his office in Abuja on Thursday.
While asserting the associationâ€™s readiness to give the Federal Government its full support, PENGASSAN nevertheless charged the administration to address persisting issues such as contract staffing and other unfair labour practices among multinational and local companies in the sector.
According to Ogun, â€œWe will ensure that for the period that we are going to work together with you and the other stakeholders, we can guarantee maximum peace in oil and gas industry.â€
While lauding the proactive actions of the Labour Minister, Ogun said, â€œIt is very rare to have the privilege of having this kind of person who understands what labour is all about and the relevance of oil and gas.
â€œIt means that we are working in an environment where somebody that understands the problems and grievances that from time to time can be our challenge and we cannot say anything less than thanking God for having your kind of Minister,â€ the PENGASSAN President added.
Welcoming the support of the Association, the Minister said the government has in its determination to realise the maximum welfare of all workers constituted a committee to look into issues such as contract staffing, casualisation and unionization presently agitating the sector.
Earlier, the Minister had given the administrationâ€™s determination to confront present issues facing the sector including casualisation, contract staffing and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
â€œWe have set up a committee to look into issues concerning contract staffing/casualisation and unionization so that we can come up with a blueprint to tackle the monster.
â€œOur Constitution ensures that there is freedom of association and I think that whatever we are going to do has to be done within the ambits of the law,â€ Wogu said.
Pledging the Ministryâ€™s readiness to help smoothen out issues of concern to the association, the Minister said:
â€œWe are going to give you maximum support and cooperation in ensuring that issues of industrial relations in the oil and gas sector are treated with maximum dispatch and in record time and we will work with you to a logical conclusion to add value to the oil and gas industry because it is the mainstay of the economy.â€