8 March 2018

Nigeria: Oil Workers Face Off With Indigenous Firms Over Remuneration

About 2,000 oil workers may be be on the line, as the crises between Nigeria indigenous oil firms and unions demanding higher remuneration for disengaged members, intensified.

This, the indigenous companies said, comes despite committing huge resources in the development of local capacity in line with the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act.

The Guardian gathered that the indigenous firms have already sacked 1,000 oil workers as low oil price cycles, dearth and outright cancellation of contracts, and elongated downtime due to call-off contracts in the oil and gas sector made operation difficult in the last few years.

While the indigenous companies are struggling to retain workers they groomed under various capacity building programmes that took substantial investments, they alleged that the labour union continue to make huge demand.The Chairman Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN), Bank-Antony Okoroafor, said the group is working with all parties in the disputes to address the impasse.

He said a meeting has been scheduled for this week to look into series of complaints by workers and employers involved in the disputes. He disclosed that over 15 companies outside PETAN are also affected by the labour dispute.

He admitted that low activity cycle affected the financial capacity of most service companies in the country, adding that labour leaders should situate the prevailing crisis in the context of Nigeria's current economic condition and close ranks with investors to get the sector out of doldrums.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who deplored the labour crisis in the services sector, said government is working to attract the right level of investment capital to keep the Nigerian Content scope of the industry vibrant in the short to medium term.He however said it would require over $100billion worth of investments to recalibrate activity the industry.

He promised to wield into the crisis with a view to finding a middle point between the employers and unions, saying the problem deserved greater attention than it currently receives from government.He explained that the Ministry of Labour should lead intervention while Ministry of Petroleum Resources assists with details.

"I have appealed to the unions to bring labour issues in the industry to me for initial dialogue before they become labour issue. My advice is that ultimatums and work stoppage are something that must be used very sparingly. In a typical year, we lose a lot of time because we are back to back with strike.

"It is almost like the organized labour in the industry believes that the only way to get attention from us is to go on strike. But it shouldn't be. When we are not doing things right we need to correct ourselves.

"I will pay attention to this more that we have already done because I must confess to you that we have not given enough attention to some of the developing labour issues in the industry," Kachikwu promis

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