By Chris Ochayi
With the decline in the global prices of oil, workers in Chevron under the aegis of Chevron Branch of Petroleum and natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), have emphasised the need for the employers of labour and workers unions in the country to collaborate on ways to mitigate the effects on the employee, companies’ operations and the economy at large.
Speaking during a two day training organised by the Chevron Branch of PENGASSAN in Lagos, the Branch Chairman, Frank Esanubi, said that the collaboration will enable both workers and management to fashion out ways to deal with the challenges that accompany the free fall in oil prices.
He noted that it will be unethical for management to unilaterally and unprocedurually implement decisions that are anti-workers in their bid to cut operational costs as a result of the dwindling oil prices.
Esanubi called on the government to mandate employers to obey legal frameworks that encourage decent employment and unionisation of workers, adding that it is only decent work that can guarantee robust industrial harmony and improved productivity.
He stated that the training was necessary to equip the members with relevant modern knowledge and information that can make them confront challenges pose by the ongoing reforms and the dwindling oil prices.
In his remarks, a past President of PENGASSAN, Peter Esele, said that the collaboration between the employers and labour in the oil and gas industry will engender industrial harmony and enhance productivity as both parties will be seeing issues from mutually beneficial positions.
He therefore enjoined employers to respect the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution on the Right to Freedom of Association and lawful Assembly, as well as the Trade Union Act and the international conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on the right to collective bargaining and unionisation.
Speaking on “ILO Conventions and The Nigeria Labour Laws,” Hyginus Chika Onuegbu noted that the Nigerian labour laws right from the colonial period seemed largely designed to facilitate the commercial and economic objectives and interests of the masters, adding “despite the 54 years of independence, this attitude of the colonial masters towards labour and industrial relations matters is very much enshrined in our labour laws.
“We appeal to the Government of Nigeria to ratify many of the ILO conventions not yet ratified. We particularly appeal to the Federal Government to ratify ILO Convention 158 concerning termination of employment at the Initiative of the Employer which came into force on 3rd November 1985, as this will provide some succour to employees whose employments do not have statutory flavour.
He appealed to the National Assembly to review the Nigerian labour laws and bring them up to date with current reality and international best practice, saying that many of the laws are outdated.