BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG
PETROLEUM and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has raised an alarm about the gradual phasing out of pension and gratuity by indigenous employers in the downstream sector of the economy.
Lagos zonal Chairman of PENGASSAN, Revered Folorunsho Oginni, in a chat with Pension and You, lamented downstream operators were increasingly casualising their workers without plans for life after work.
He specifically accused African Petroleum, Conoil among others of being in the vanguard of this new employment policy that guarantees no future for workers where neither pension nor gratuity are assured.
Speaking on the state of pension in the oil industry, he said “we have different organizations, when you talk of the downstream; it is not the same thing they are doing in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, or the upstream.
There are Pension Fund Administrators, PFAs that handle the pensions. Prior to this time, there were Closed Pension Funds and that is what most of these International Oil Companies, IOCs, have, including NNPC. Most of the workers in the companies with the advent of the new contributory pension scheme have migrated their money to the PFAs.
The companies no longer handle penstion contributions. Its the PFAs . Except when one is leaving like we have seen in the downstream where companies like African Petroleum…. you cannot see any permanent staff. What they have now are casual workers. If you go to Conoil, it is the same thing.
They do not even belong to unions anymore. Before they are given letters of employment, they are asked to sign an undertaken that they will not belong to union.”
“As we speak, there are no unions in these companies but before some of them left, they were migrated to PFAs. So, it is PFAs that now administer their pension. As it is today, many employees , if they are sacked today, they go home with nothing because there are no more unions, nobody negotiates gratuity for them.
So, when they are sacked or they leave on their own, they cannot talk of gratuity, they cannot talk of severance pay and other terminal benefits. This is what is happening in our nation, Nigeria.”