The federal government Tuesday threatened to revoke the licences of contractors in the oil and gas sector over increasing cases of unfair labour practices.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed that any labour contractor that promotes unfair labour practices in the oil and gas sector risks having its licence revoked or not renewed as government was already working on reforming the process of granting and renewing recruiters’ licence.
He said this was aimed at ensuring adherence to expatriate quotas and eschew unfair labour practices.
Ngige stated this while addressing the newly elected National Administrative Council members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) in Abuja.
He said: “I thank you for taking interest in job creation in the oil and gas sector and for observing some lapses on the part of labour contractors licensed by the ministry. We have started reforming the process of granting and renewing recruiters’ licence and we will not grant or renew the licence of recruiters who compromise by aiding and abetting ‘yellow dog’ contracts, as any recruiters found abusing expatriate quotas will have his licence revoked or not renewed.”
The minister added that this move is in line with the Executive Order of the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that jobs that are reserved for the local are not given to expatriates as well as protect indigenous products over foreign products.
“In 2016, despite the shortfall in the oil revenue, the federal government brought both the international oil companies and the workers together to agree and fashion out ways to ensure that there is no job loss.
“This is something to cheer because all parties agreed and we were able to save jobs in the oil and gas sector. We were never happy when people lose their job because the pressure will always come back to the government. Today oil prices have picked up and activities have commenced so we expect new jobs to be created in the oil and gas sector,” he stressed.
Ngige maintained that “the federal government is now wiser because revenue accrued from the oil and gas sector will now be channelled towards steering the economy in other profitable directions such as agriculture, skills acquisition, mining, education and entrepreneurship so as to prepare for the rainy day. The previous administration made the mistake of not saving or making concrete efforts at diversification”.
Speaking, the newly elected President of NUPENG, Williams Akporeha, decried unfair labour practices being perpetrated by licensed contractors in the oil and gas sector.
Akporeha said: “It is so sad that in the oil and gas industry as it is in other sectors, our employees have become more or less slave labour with no hope for career growth and development.
“In almost all multinational oil companies in Nigeria, there are no more direct permanent jobs for the middle level to lower level cadre. Labour Contracts of 5 + 1 in the oil and gas industry in the years past have all been virtually turned to service contracts with a shorter duration of 1 +1 or even sometimes less.”
He further contended that uncertainty of job security is of grave concern to the union and all other stakeholders, noting that: “This uncertainty is responsible for violent crises the country is witnessing today and the ever increasing criminal activities among the youths as they no longer see any reason for hardwork.”
Akporeha also pledged the unalloyed support of the union in promoting industrial peace and harmony in the country, adding that: “We promise to administer the union with a human face, a heart of kindness, respect for the extant labour law, employers stakeholders and relevant institutions.”