By Victor AHIUMA-YOUNG
NIGERIA Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has threatened to cripple Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Sector over increasing unfair labour practices and divestment by International Oil Companies, IOCs, also known as multi-national oil companies.
President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, at the commissioning of Lagos Zonal Office of NUPENG, also accused the IOCs of stalling the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, and called on the National Assembly to put the interest of Nigeria above its members’ interest and ensure the PIB became a reality.
According to him, “The casualisation/outsourcing of workers has become a cancer, especially in the oil and gas sector. The Union has threatened to call its members on a nation-wide strike without notice, if industrial relations issues on outsourcing and negotiation of Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, for our members are not addressed in the multi-national oil companies, especially, Mobil Producing Nigeria, Agip, Chevron and Shell Petroleum Development Company.
“The Union re-iterates that the new drive of the oil majors and multi-nationals amount to sabotage and therefore call on the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to intervene as all efforts by the NNPC and Federal Ministry of Labour had failed. We also kick against the on-going divestment in the oil sector by the multi-nationals, as it often led to job losses and therefore enjoin the government to constitute a team to look into the issue in order to avert industrial unrest. We therefore warn that the Union will go on strike without notice, if the issues are not addressed. Part of the responsibility of governance is to create jobs and protect the jobs that already exist.
“It is against this backdrop that we call for the quick passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill that is before the National Assembly. The quick passage will go a long way to reforming and ensuring transparency in the oil and gas sector. The multi-nationals are running helter-skelter to halt the passage but this must be rebuffed by the National Assembly members because the multinationals are doing it for their selfish interests.”
Achese lamented the increasing cases of pipeline vandalism and said “It is a pity that pipelines vandals have refused to change. The recent poor power supply in the nation was attributed to vandalism of the gas pipelines in Escravos area. The nation’s economy still bleeds with the oil theft from the activities of vandals and we continue to call for the establishment of a Pipeline Protection Agency to be well funded to tackle the problem.”
Removing tankers from highways
Speaking on the efforts to take tankers off the highways, the NUPENG President appealed to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, to give the union land to build a tanker park, promising that once the land is given and the park developed, the issue of petrol tankers parking on the Lagos high way would be a thing of the past.
He disclosed that states like Oyo, Cross Rivers, Rivers and others had given the union land to develop Tanker Parks.
According to him, “we wish to again appeal for land for the construction of another park for tankers in order to decongest the roads of tankers going to the depots to load. I want to assure you that once the land is given and developed, there will be no more tankers parked on Lagos highways. Today we have taken the union from rent to land-lordship. The Union within the four years of, (my) leadership moved to acquire and commissioned the Port Harcourt and Warri zonal offices.
“In addition, we have 700 plots or 43 hectares of land in Eleme for the establishment of a Tanker village. The land was given to the Union by the Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Rivers State. We have been given the letter of authority to possess the land. The land has been bulldozed and set for work, which will include the provision of the park that can take over 1,000 trucks, a clinic, bank, hotel, fire station, restaurants, and shopping mall.
The project is expected to cost 4 billion naira and that is why we are calling on investors to partner with us in this project. The Union is in the process of acquiring a land in Port Harcourt to build ‘a labour college in collaboration with the American Labour Institute which when it comes ‘“to completion will award diplomas and degrees in industrial relations and allied studies.”
Continuing, he said “In our first term in office, the Union also made it possible for National Executive Council, NEC members to attend overseas courses in Dubai, United Kingdom and the United States’’.