- Govt Threatens to Sanction Recruiters in Oil Sector
The Federal Government has threatened to withdraw the licence of labour contractors that engage in anti-labour practices.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, gave the warning while hosting the newly- elected members of the National Administrative Council (NAC) of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) in Abuja.
He said the ministry was working on reforming the grant and renewal of licence to labour contractors to ensure adherence to expatriate quotas, and eschew unfair labour practices.
Ngige insisted that the ministry was poised to redress the situation, saying the sanction against contractors that flout the law was in consonance with the Executive Order of the Federal Government to ensure that jobs that are reserved for indigenes are not given to expatriates as well as protect indigenous products over foreign products.
He said: “We have started reforming the process of granting and renewing Recruiters’ Licence and we will not grant or renew the license of recruiters who compromise by aiding and abetting “yellow dog” contracts, as any recruiters found abusing expatriate quotas will have his licence revoked or not renewed.”
He said the ministry was making effort to close up identified gaps in the operational guidelines and labour laws in the oil and gas sector.
The new President, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Comrade Williams Akporeha, decried unfair labour practices being perpetrated by labour contractors in the oil and gas sector.
“It is so sad that in the oil and gas industry as it is in other sectors, our employees have become more or less slave labour with no hope for career growth and development. In almost all multinational oil companies in Nigeria, there are no more direct permanent jobs for the middle level to lower level cadre,” he said.
William said the union is committed to the promotion of industrial peace and harmony in the country.
Recently, the oil workers under the auspices of NUPENGASSAN declared that they could no longer guarantee industrial harmony in the sector if government fail to curb the abuses of workers’ rights by oil companies and labour recruiters.
At the end of their joint NAC and National Executive Council (NEC) meeting under the umbrella of NUPENGASSAN, both NUPENG and PENGASSAN condemned the increasing impunities and anti labour tendencies of most indigenous and multinational oil companies in the oil and gas industry operating in the country.
PENGASSAN President and Chairman of NUPENG Olabode Johnson regretted that the situation was compounded by the inability of the Federal Government to address the issue and the ministry’s helplessness.
Olabode said: “The situation was compounded by the fact that the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment that is supposed to be the watchdog in the areas of compliance with extant labour laws is unfortunately handicapped because of poor understanding of the contract processing and workings in the oil and gas industry.”
He urged the Federal Government to establish a special body to mediate on the issues.
“The Council-in-Session demands that a special mediation unit comprising experts from NNPC (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) Human Resources, NAPIMS (National Petroleum Investment Services) and other relevant units be set up to apprehend industrial relations/labour disputes and treat them with dispatch before escalating to level of any form of Industrial actions,” he said.
While observing that it is inevitable to keep contract staffing out of the system, he called on the government and industry agencies to help the industry reverse back to the old system.