Workers in the oil and gas sector of the economy have berated the Ministry of Labour for negligence and lack of due diligence in issuing recruiters’ licence.
The workers, under the umbrella of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), lambasted the ministry for looking the other way while Nigerian workers’ rights were flagrantly abused.
President of the union, Comrade Williams Akporeha, addressing the media at the end of the Central Working Committee meeting held at the weekend in Lagos, said it was worrisome that jobs were awarded to contractors without recruiters’ licence and also without operational offices or fixed addresses.
He said, “It is very obvious that many labour contractors being engaged by oil and gas companies in Nigeria are not registered as recruiters and this in clear violation of the extant laws on being licensed as a labour recruiter.
“This has seriously impacted negatively on the conditions of work of those being recruited, as there is massive exploitation and abuse of workers’ rights, to the extent of elopement with contract workers’ severance benefits,” he said.
Akporeha cited Virtual Travel Network that eloped with terminal benefits of 48 NAOC contract workers since 2015 and Logistics Facility Affairs, a contractor with Chevron Nigeria Limited, that also vanished with workers’ final entitlement.
He afirmed that the union was ready to activate the instruments of the law and all other legitimate means as recognised by labour laws and conventions to fight the apparent injustice, retrogression, humiliation and inhuman treatment meted out to Nigerian oil and gas workers.
The NUPENG president added that the statutory institutions and agencies saddled with the responsibility of protecting workers’ interest should wake up to their responsibilities by addressing the exploitation and abuse of workers.
He called on government and other relevant authorities to call to order multinationals and indigenous companies that were exhibiting anti-union posture through refusal to allow unionisation of contract workers and refusal to negotiate and recognise with organised bodies.
He also lamented the current situation of insecurity in the country, as the union’s members were not left out in the nefarious act of kidnappers and bandits.
He said, “We once reiterate the call to the government to urgently find solutions to the increasing rate of insecurity of life and property in the country, which is causing massive negative impacts and effects on investment and citizens’ livelihoods.”
He maintained that the state of insecurity was also discouraging investors from investing in the economy, as no sane person would invest in an unsafe and insecure clime, thus the deepening level of poverty and unemployment in the country.