President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Francis Olabode Johnson, has observed that oppression of workers by their employers has taken a different dimension in Nigeria.
Comrade Johnson made the observation in his May Day massage to felicitate with the Nigerian workers.
“The May Day is here again, a day that is dedicated for celebration of workers’ liberation from the oppressive and suppressive power of the employers led to the death of thousands of workers in the United States of America (USA) in 1886.
“Nowadays, the oppression by the employers has taken a new dimension by suppressing and denying workers their Constitutional Right to Freedom of Association and lawful Assembly, as well as the right to Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as spelt out in the extant labour laws and international treaties of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Workers are therefore confronted with employment, economic, social, environmental and political challenges that impact on their welfare and lives,” he said.
Johnson further stressed that employers’ approach requires industrial grievances and dispute resolution system to ensure industry best practices and guarantee good workplace ethics and improved welfare system for the workers.
According to him, “more worrisome is the attitude of indigenous employers, who ought to be defending the nation’s constitution but instead prefer otherwise by enslaving their fellow countrymen and women by preventing them from joining union of their choice and thereby denying them the privileges of fair welfare packages and good work environment.
“Instead of the embracing a globally accepted industrial relations system of resolving industrial crisis, they result to the excessive use of force by security agencies against armless members embarking on legitimate industrial actions.
“We call on the National Assembly to put in place required legislation to address this unfortunate trend of flagrant disregard by indigenous and marginal field operators for the Constitution, other extant labour laws and international conventions which Nigeria are signatory.
“All workers should rise against this unacceptable cheap and slave labour, as PENGASSAN, will always do everything within its power to resist this trend.
“The level of attrition whereby retired workers are not replaced at all level of employment is also of great concern to our association. Government should put in place machinery to employ professionals to replace those who had left the system to bring back competency into the system, especially the oil and gas industry.”
Johnson further urged workers to stand against the contract and casual employment as well as off-shoring of jobs, which, according to him, is tactically and steadily taking over permanent employment and increasing unemployment in Nigeria while most jobs that domicile in Nigeria are done outside the country.
“Government should step up security of lives as well as oil and gas infrastructures, curb pipeline vandalism and the attendant crude oil and petroleum products theft, ensuring optimal functioning of the refineries to increase local refining, provision of investment friendly environment for private investors in the downstream sector to encourage investment and drive down job losses in the oil and gas operations in the country,” he added.