By Emma Amaize
ASABA- THE Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has intervened in the dispute between the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and the management of Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Producing Company, SEEPCO, over unionization of workers, which led to strike action by the union, last week.
Vanguard learned that at a meeting in Abuja, weekend, the company was directed to ensure that all third party contractors irrespective of their contract status should comply with the provision of the law on workers union deduction and remittance of check-off dues.
The meeting was attended by the Director, Trade Union Services and Industrial Relations, Federal Ministry of The Labour, Mrs. O. U. Akpan, NUPENG president, Mr. Wilson Akporeha, Dr. Chris Offokansi of SEEPCO and others, who signed the resolutions.
It was resolved that the ministry would advise NUPENG to suspend the industrial action immediately, while the meeting will reconvene September 25 “where the concerned third party contractors will be briefed by the Ministry.”
It was gathered that at the meeting, the Ministry “stated that unionization is an inalienable right of workers, which is enshrined in the extant labour laws of Nigeria and the Convention of International Labour Organization, ILO, and consequently, all workers who indicate interest to belong to trade unions should be given due recognition.”
But SEEPCO claimed that it was “not averse to trade unions as all their direct employees were unionized by both NUPENG and PENGANSSAN.”
The company further stated that the “workers in question belonged to third party contractors, who have fixed terms of contract and the issue of unionization of their workers are further complicated by the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, reached with the host communities.”
The meeting, therefore, noted the need to invite the third party contractors and educate them on the position of the law.
The Ministry also directed SEEPCO to “engage with the union to iron out all issues of duration of the contract of their members vis a vis the interest of the host communities.”