We Do Not Subscribe To Another Strike | Independent Newspapers Limited
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We Do Not Subscribe To Another Strike

Posted: Jul 8, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

For the past few days, Nigeria’s oil and gas industry has been abuzz with uncertainties engendered by the threats of a strike action by the Petroleum And Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN). In a statement on June 18, the oil workers threatened to shut down operations and activities in the country’s oil and gas industry if employers in the industry failed to stop their blameworthy anti-labour practices. The kernel of the association’s latest position is that some organisations in the industry are still sacking some of its members without the relevant terms of agreement.

PENGASSAN said in the statement that despite the tripartite agreement between the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, employers, and the two trade unions in the industry – PENGASSAN and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), some employers still sacked its members, including some national officers.

As a major interested party in the industry, the umbrella body for senior oil workers also wants the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) to direct that a clear policy statement be established against recurrent redundancy plans by operators masquerading under the guise of fluctuating crude oil prices.

It is also on record that the association further raised other industrial issues such the need to review the persistent irregular Joint Venture funding and Cash Call payment arrears, lack of a clear cut direction on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) still pending before the National Assembly, and forcefully co-opting government agencies in the industry into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System.

Apart from the arrears, the association also bemoans undue delays suffered by the current cash call payment. The workers also contend that cash calls even when paid, remain much below approved value consideration of JV commitment, including staff salaries.

It said: “The effect of non-payment has led to thousands of job losses across the sectors and non-creation of new jobs against the backdrop of the electoral promises of employment generation by the current government. A stitch in time saves nine.”

We are aware of the meetings and maneuverings going on among the various industry stakeholders, especially the zonal wings of the association and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, as well as Ministry of Petroleum Resources, aimed to resolve the glitches and forestall the planned strike action. Although it remains a positive development by our reckoning, we dare say that these moves ought to have been made much earlier than now. Given the prevailing milieu of economic recession witnessed in the first and second quarters of the year, we believe that labour related issues in the upstream, midstream and downstream segments of the nation’s oil and gas industry need to be treated with utmost speed and precision to avert the disaster any distortion or dislocation in the industry could engender.

Asides unleashing another round of scarcity of petroleum products, the planned strike by PENGASSAN has great capacity to push the entire economy down the cliff of economic recession, if not deftly managed.

It is appalling that agitations arising from government’s incessant failure to keep the terms of numerous agreements entered into with various interest and pressure groups are increasing. We admonish that an end be put to this development forthwith. One of the steps towards achieving this is for governments to endeavour at all times to give concessions only to realistic extents, and not to assuage frayed nerves making the aggrieved parties momentarily happy. It is also our view that all concerned parties should always be committed to not breaching agreements especially in such delicate economic sectors as oil and gas.

Our unflinching position on the planned strike is that every step be taken and all measures transparently put in place within the ambit of the laws of the land by all parties to ensure the strike does not hold at all. It will be one too many and the effect unimaginably hefty for the economy that is already hobbled with rising inflation, unemployment, cost of funds, unconvincing exchange rate among many other traumatic risks. All hands must be on deck to railroad the meeting scheduled for today between the representatives of the Labour unions and the federal government into a positive and value generating outcome.