*Ask companies to consider workers’ welfare while donating to COVID-19
By Victor Young
Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and its Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, counterpart, on Tuesday, rejected perceived clandestine attempts by employers in the oil industry to sack their members, as fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The two unions, in a joint statement, asked employers to jettison the plot to avoid unprecedented industrial unrest, as organised labour would employ all means within their powers, including nationwide strike, to protect the interests of their members.
The statement was signed by Prince Williams Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale, President and General Secretary of NUPENG, as well as Ndukaku Ohaeri and Lumumba Okugbawa, President and General Secretary of PENGASSAN, respectively.
They said: “We have received series of reports from our members of attempts by some multinational and indigenous oil and gas companies to exploit the current unfortunate COVID- 19 situation and the slide in global crude oil prices to rationalise, downsize, sack, introduce precarious/indecent work system or reduce salaries and allowances of workers in the industry.
“While the leadership of the union and association empathise with employers over the negative impacts COVID-19 is having on the industry, business operations and earnings, we still feel very strongly that taking the routes of arbitrary sack, termination or introduction of precarious/indecent working conditions laden with flagrant and unprocedural behaviour should be avoided at all cost, as they would not bring anything good to anyone in the short, medium and long terms.
“The leadership of NUPENGASSAN condemn these moves and vow to resist them with all our might.
“The moves are unfair to the selfless and patriotic services of the Nigerian oil and gas workers to these companies and the nation over these past highly-productive years and even when these workers are still fully participating in the frontline of the struggle against the pandemic, rendering essential services.
“These moves, if not properly checked and managed by relevant authorities whose guidelines are being continually disobeyed by these organisations, will further complicate the already impoverished state of Nigerian oil and gas workers, their immediate family and others depending on the workers incomes, for a living
“We, therefore, call on the Federal Government and all its relevant agencies saddled with the responsibilities of managing and regulating the industry to urgently nip these ugly trends in the bud to avoid many untoward and damaging consequences of the actions and reactions that may follow.
“The Federal Government and all its relevant agencies are further put on notice that NUPENGASSAN might be forced to precipitate an action that will affect drastically the entire industry if this ugly trend is not halted and erring organisations called to order.
“However, we earnestly implore these companies that in the same manner and spirit they are making donations for the fight against COVID-19, they should also spare some kind thoughts for their workers and strive to keep them alive and on the job so as not to create social upheavals that would be more devastating than the COVID-19 pandemic.”