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Workers express concern over reforms in oil, gas sector


president of PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson

president of PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson

AS Nigerians awaits the outcome of the ongoing reforms at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), oil workers under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have accused the Federal Government of not carrying the unions along.

In a joint statement the two unions expressed reservations over the ongoing approach of government to the Reform programme in the Oil and Gas Industry “without carrying the two Unions in the Sector along in the process”.

The unions argued that while they are fully in support of the fight against corruption, “the fight itself should not be turned against workers whom Government swore to protect”.

Specifically, the statement signed by president of PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson and secretary general, Bayo Olowoshile and president of NUPENG, Igwe Achese and acting general secretary, Joseph Ogbebor, alleged that, the ongoing exercise portends a great danger in the oil and sector, “if workers are meant to bear the brunt of Government current action where the fight of corruption is now used as an act of vindictiveness against workers”.

The joint statement said: “The ongoing exercise does not show any act of fighting corruption and blocking any leakages. We dare the new Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu to recover the stolen trillions of Naira in the sector than retiring and sacking of innocent workers.

We see the action as an act of cover up. We are quite sure that the ongoing action is not the idea of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR.

The unions argued that, further to their social partner’s status, they are strategic players in all spheres and areas of the industry’s operation, “In that regard, we have been making persistent effort to reach out to President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue but are being kept in the dark by those in charge of protocol. “However, our commitments to protect and defend job security and welfare is paramount and cannot be sacrificed.

We shall approach as it becomes expedient whatever Government steps and actions that are viewed as dialectical or capable of suppressing our missions and objectives as a labour movement.

We are being put on the spot as representatives of organised workers in the oil and gas industry to react to the manner that government is now treading and introducing to carry out change while none of the critical challenges of review of industry policy and fiscal framework, cash call and counterpart funding obligations, stability of the downstream oil and gas sector, pipeline sabotage, oil theft, that we have presented for immediate attention are being given secondary attention.

The gale of abrupt loss of jobs currently sweeping through our apex oil company the NNPC, is sending very wrong signals to our members throughout the oil and gas sector as per job security, which is making our members agitated. “It is pertinent to state here that this present administration promised jobs creation throughout the entire strata of the economy.

However, actions like these are likely to have the opposite effect. We believe people are not the problem but the structure put in place.

If there are strong structures and Institutions, the organization will be a more effective place. In a related development, The Guardian gathered that the management of the NNPC has called the oil workers for a meeting to resolve some of the issues relating to the welfare of their members under the new dispensation.

Specifically, the source said the meeting may be held today or before the end of the week, adding that, it was informed by the need to carry the workers along in the restructuring exercise currently taken place at the corporation.

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