By Victor Young & Onozure Dania
Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, on Thursday, alerted Nigerians of its plans to declare a nationwide industrial action over unfair labour practices by some indigenous oil companies.
Although NUPENG did not disclose when the industrial action would begin, its President, Prince Williams Apkoreha, at a briefing in Lagos, said the industrial unrest would begin any moment from now, saying the union does not want to disclose the date when the industrial action would begin.
He, however, informed that the union had intimated all relevant government agencies, including the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
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Among others, Akporeha said: “The COVID-19 outbreak brought about several issues of work closures, redundancies and unfair labour practices by some employers in the oil and gas industry.
“Unfortunately, some employers in the industry have been exploiting the situation of COVID-19 to embark on unbridled declarations of redundancies without any form of empathy or consideration for the productive efforts of these workers before COVID-19.
“As usual, our Union responded appropriately to these issues concerning the massive wave of loss of employment in the Nigerian oil and gas industry by taking them before various institutions and agencies of the Federal Government.
“These issues are not limited only to redundancies being declared, but coupled as well with that other sharp practices being perpetrated by some companies in the industry to exploit and impoverish Nigerian workers in the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“The first of such indigenous employer our Union is calling out is Valiant Energy Services West Africa and Vicadis Enterprises Nigeria Limited, labour contractor to Borr Drilling Nigeria Limited for running away with workers terminal entitlements.
“Workers in this matter, who are our members, had their employment unlawfully terminated on October 28, 2019 in very dubious and wicked manners, while the employer absconded with their last month salary and final entitlements in violation of provisions of the extant labour law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“These oil and gas sector workers worked on the rig of Borr Drilling Nigeria Limited for TOTAL E&P and Shell Petroleum Development Company during this period.
“Our findings reveal that he further set up the following five companies, all with the same management and housed in the same official address on Power Line Road, Kajola Magboro, Ogun State.
“These companies are Ilantrisant Limited, Caplina Limited, Ilandudno Limited, Pastunwali Limited and Mantrax Limited.
“Since we reported this matter to the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, he has been avoiding all invitations and calls from the ministry and other government agencies, thereby frustrating every effort to make him account for his misdeeds.
“It should be noted here, that he may be hiding away from government institutions; he cannot hide from the Union and, in few days, we shall commence some actions against him across the country.
“The action of management, to say the least, is very provocative and an affront to global best practices, decency and integrity in the Nigerian oil and gas industry. We shall use all the powers at our disposal to get justice for our members,” the oil workers’ union noted.