THE Federal Government would soon organize a stakeholders’ summit to tackle all the industrial disagreements in the oil and gas sector.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chirs Ngige, disclosed this in Abuja, while addressing a crucial meeting with National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUNPENG) Petroleum, National Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the contractors in the oil and gas sector.
He added: “I have before me, petitions which border on industrial and employment relations – retrenchment, casualization, redundancy as well as unfair treatment of Nigerians in the employ of the oil majors. I have therefore summoned this meeting for us to properly ventilate the issues and make a way for a speedy resolution, after which we shall hold stakeholders’ summit.”
The Minister also reiterated the zero tolerance of the present administration to job losses in the oil and gas or any other sector of the economy, assuring that any threat to industrial harmony would be nipped in the bud.
“We all know that the backbone of the Nigerian economy for now is still the oil and gas. As the Minister of Labour and Employment, I am committed to forestalling any issue that could bring industrial unrest in the sector or threaten job security in the country. I wish to put on record that the Buhari administration has zero tolerance for any form of job loss. If the oil and gas sector or any other sector for that matter cannot create new jobs, they must go the extra mile to retain the existing ones. Any job loss has multiple adverse effects on the population,” he explained.
Speaking on the much-debated issue of expatriate quota, the Minister said the Ministry is liaising with the Ministry of Interior and to check the abuse of the nation’s immigration and labour laws and promised that the displacement of qualified Nigerians by foreigners would soon become a thing of the past.
On his part, Minister of State, James Ocholi (SAN) harped on the need to be proactive by the ministry to the sustenance of industrial peace and harmony.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Dr. Clement Iloh in his contribution regretted that the Oil and Gas Guidelines have become obsolete and should therefore be enhanced through the promulgation of a Ministerial Regulations so as to boost stability and sanity in the industry. He further said that many recruiters in the sector are yet to register or update their recruiter’s license, urging them to comply forthwith.
In the same vein, the President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese said the drop in the international price of oil was not a tenable reason for the continued enslavement of Nigerian workers through contract staffing and casualization, arguing that no where in the world are workers subjected to harsh and unfriendly labour environment as done by the oil majors in Nigeria.
Similarly, the National President of PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson called for the urgent passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as a road map to the maintenance of peace and harmony in the oil and gas sector.
At the end of very exhaustive deliberations, government emphasized its strong commitment to the preservation and security of jobs in the oil and gas sector.
Government therefore advised the stakeholders to engage themselves in the interim on the best and most expedient strategies of achieving this without resort to industrial action or loss of jobs.
Furthermore, government has put in place a Tripartite Committee to review the existing Guidelines on Labour Administration Issues on Contract Staffing/Outsourcing in the Oil and Gas Sector and upgrade the Guidelines to a Ministerial Regulation as provided by the Enabling Act. The Committee is empowered to also consider modalities of achieving retention of jobs in the oil and gas sector in view of current challenges besieging the prices of crude oil in the international market.