Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Free Trade Zone: Oil Workers Issue 3 Weeks Ultimatum Over Anti-Labour Practices

 Oil workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), have threatened to shut down oil and gas operations in Port-Harcourt zone comprising Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra and Benue States if anti-labour practices in Onne Free Trade Zone do not stop within three weeks.

The workers gave the ultimatum in a communique issued at the end of a joint NUPENG and PENGASSAN (NUPENGASSAN) National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Calabar, Cross River State recently.

They expressed deep worry about the continuing anti-labour posture of companies operating in the Onne Free Trade Zone, recalling that the authorities of the Free Trade Zone and companies operating in the zone have refused to heed the advice by the Labour Minister to respect the constitutional rights of workers to join trade unions and bargain collectively.

According to the communiqué, “Unfortunately, the NEC-in-Session notes that these companies in connivance with the Authority of the Free Trade Zone have continued to deny Nigerian workers these inalienable constitutional rights.

“We observe that managements of the various companies in the Free Trade Zone continue to harass, intimidate and victimise workers. Consequently, NEC-in-Session hereby directs the Port-Harcourt Zone of NUPENG and PENGASSAN to shut down all oil and gas operations in Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra and Benue States if these matters are not resolved within three weeks.”

In the communiqué, the workers also reminded the Governor of Rivers State, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, of the agreement reached at the joint meeting of NUPENGASSAN on 21st September, 2010, at Aldgate Congress Hotel, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State on the Rivers State Social Levy.

The agreement, they stated included, a review of the levy for those that earn below N100, 000.00 to be treated as workers in the public sector; inclusion of two representatives of NUPENG and PENGASSAN in the Board of Governors of the new schools; commitment that the rate of the social services levy will not be subject to further review; and inclusion of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) on the Board of Trustees of the Social Service Contributory Trust Fund.

The workers noted in the communiqué the issues around the commencement date of the law, maintaining that the effective commencement date of the law for the oil and gas industry shall be the date when the state government fulfils all its promises to NUPENG and PENGASSAN.

They, therefore, called on Governor Amaechi to earnestly honour the River state Government‘s side of the bargain.

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