31 December 2015, Abuja – Oil workers, under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), have condemned the proposed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), describing it as anti-labour.
Besides, the workers vowed to resist the plan by the Federal Government to retrench workers, especially employees of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a result of the restructuring agenda in the proposed PIB.
According to them, the planned sack was not in tandem with the “change” that the government promised Nigerians, especially in the area of job creation.
Reacting to the official release of the proposed draft institutional and legal frameworks for reforms in the oil and gas industry by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, PENGASSAN’s acting General Secretary, Lumumba Okugbawa, said the provisions in the proposed PIB are not only anti-labour but is at variance with the national interest.
Okugbawa, who commended the renewed effort by the Minister to rejuvenate the reforms after several failed attempts in the past, noted that PENGASSAN has always been in support of the reforms in the oil and gas industry but with a caveat that it must be transparently done to make sure that stakeholders in the oil and gas industry are carried along.
He however added that, PENGASSAN will not support any reforms that jeopardises the welfare of its members, noting that, the restructuring will be resisted if it negatively affects the Association’ members.
We have said on many occasions that the problem of the NNPC is not the workers but the high level of political interference in the corporation and we are satisfied that the current government has promised to give the corporation free hand to operate for better service delivery to the Nigerian nation.
Some of the inconsistencies noted by PENGASSAN in the draft bill include:
·A subtle ploy in Section 87 (Transfer of Staff) to retrench or drop some of the work force transiting to the new Nigeria Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NPRC) with the contentious clause ‘’transfer of certain employees’’;
·inability to specify the role or status of the Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Management Board) which hitherto is vested with the responsibility of ensuring uniform pricing of petroleum products in Section 3 of the draft Bill;
·apart from the uncertainty of the agency’s institutional role, the draft bill as currently drafted will create job loss as no provision for absorption or transfer of service for the work force is contemplated; and
·cessation of employment and transfer of staff should be automatic and guaranteed as provided by the Public Service rules and constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
To this end, the oil workers called on the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to engage the national body of the union as a matter of priority on the anomalies noticed in the draft Bill and quickly address the contentious sections of concerns to the unions, especially as it affects job loss, so as to avert industrial crisis in the industry.
- The Guardian