The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, on Tuesday in Abuja met with the Nigeria Union of Petroleum, Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).Ngige said that the purpose of the meeting was to get an update on the challenges in the oil and gas sector.
“The meeting is actually bilateral in nature; it is a meeting that is called by the two groups, PENGASSAN and NUPENG.
“The major reason is based on what they called unjustifiable disengagement of their members by the international oil companies.
“The oil sector is the backbone of the Nigeria economy and as long as we are in charge of labour issues in this country, we will do all we can to avoid crises in the sector.”
“We want to assure you that workers in the oil sector will be protected and nobody or company can bribe when it concerns workers.”
He said that a meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector would be held on Thursday to address issues in the sector.
Earlier, Mr Achese Igwe, NUPENG President, said that some of the challenges faced members of the union included job outsourcing of jobs to expatriates, downsizing, restructuring, re-engineering, among others.
Igwe stated that Nigerian workers in the sector had been enslaved for a long time by the foreign companies.
“I am sure that they have not been able to tell you that there are permanent jobs that are outsourced as contract staff job and those workers are operators and engineers, among other professions.
“Some of these jobs run from 30 years to 35 years; this cannot be happening in our country; there must be a change by virtue of our labour laws.
“We have been very patient about these issues; we have tried to avoid crises in the sector and this has been giving us serious concern.”
He urged the minister to ensure that the labour laws, expatiate quota were reviewed for the benefit of Nigerian workers.
Also speaking, Mr Johnson Olobode, PENGASSAN President, called for the urgent passage of Petroleum Industry Bill in the National Assembly.
Olabode said that the passage of the bill would address most of the challenges in the oil and gas sector.
He noted that there were a lot of issues affecting workers that the ministry needed to address urgently.