By VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
NIGERIA Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, today begins a nationwide three-day warning strike over, among others things, perceived unfair labour practices by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC; Chevron Nigeria Limited and Agip Oil Company.
Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, have been directed not to load products in all fuel depots and tank farms across the country, during the three days warning strike.
NUPENG is also protesting the alleged refusal of National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, to implement the signed collective bargaining agreement with PTD, and the sorry state of Nigerian roads.
The union warned that should government and other stakeholders fail to address its grievances after the three-day warning strike, it would declare an indefinite strike.
Specifically, NUPENG is lamenting alleged worsening unfair labour practices by SPDC, Chevron and Agip Oil, accusing them of inhuman treatment of Nigerians through casualisation and outsourcing of workers, among others.
It argued that if the agreements reached with the multinational companies at a meeting called by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, in May 2012, was implemented, these issues would have been resolved.
Vanguard investigation revealed that close to 90 percent of Nigerians working in the petroleum industry are either contract, casual or outsourced workers with conditions of work not commensurate with industry standards and best global practices.
These workers remain without job security terminal benefits, among others, for many years, without conversion to permanent workers.
Contract workers are being handed over to labour outsourcing companies without receiving terminal benefits.
The outsourcing of labour to contractors exposes workers to possible exploitation and often times these contractors prevent workers from join the union.
It would be recalled that NUPENG had on June 6, in Lagos, issued a 14-day strike notice to the Federal Government over disputes with SPDC, Chevron and Agip, threatening a nationwide strike.
The union called on the Federal Government to summon an all-stakeholders’ national conference on oil and gas to address, among others, labour issues in the sector before the expiration of the ultimatum or the union would declare an indefinite nationwide strike.
NUPENG scribe speaks
General Secretary of NUPENG, Isaac Aberare, said the three-day warning strike, starting today, was to protest unfair labour practices by oil multinationals namely.
He said: “The strike is also to protest the refusal of NARTO to implement the signed collective bargaining agreement with the Petroleum Tanker Drivers and the sorry state of roads across the nation.
“The union calls for understanding from Nigerians, as all efforts by the Ministry of Labour intervention three weeks ago have failed.”
Agip sacked 93 without benfits, says NUPENG President
President of NUPENG, Achese Igwe, accused Agip Oil of terminating the appointment of 93 contract workers that had worked with the firm for between 25 and 35 years, without benefits despite directives by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
He also accused the firm of promoting 96 workers, who have spent over 15 years as contract workers under NUPENG, to Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, as contract staff, instead of converting them to full time workers.
Igwe accused Chevron of converting workers from contract labour to service labour.
He said SPDC refused to have Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, with the workers and also denied them the right to join union, among others.