Thousands of oil workers may soon be thrown into the labour market as the disagreement between the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and petroleum industry service firms gets messier,Daily Sun has learnt
At the centre of the crisis is the unabated picketing of indigenous oil service over alleged refusal of some of the oil companies to allow workers unionise
It is however, not clear what specific actions the oil companies will take, but inferences are rife that massive staff audit is imminent in most of the oil service firms recently picketed by PENGASSAN.
Indications of likely drastic staff reorganisation follows the outcome of ongoing consultations among oil service companies in the country in response to routine picketing by PENGASSAN.
Leaders of umbrella Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) who met in Lagos over the spate of widespread picketing on the group’s members are currently exploring strategies to permanently deal with labour issues across the service segment of the industry.
From legal determination of labour activism boundaries to internal reorganisation and staff contracting, the oil service firms are working together to ward off common hindrance to the growth of their business before it becomes a tradition, inside sources said.
Chairman of PETAN, Mr. Bank-Antony Okoroafor, who spoke on the outcome of the meeting, said PENGASSAN has refused to play the role of patriotic partners in the pan-industry effort to sustain the Nigeria Content Development programme in the face of the prevailing downturn in the industry.
“It is difficult times for the oil firms, not just the service firms but also oil firms that are facing the headwinds in the oil market. Some of them are finding it difficult to pay for jobs delivered by service firms. So, they owe us. We don’t go to war with them because we know what the industry is passing through.
“Most of the contracting firms are owed. So, they are justifiably in debt, and the banks are chasing them. And you go and shut them down because you want to unionize.
That is insensitivity! Now, if these fledgling firms go down completely where will your members work? The biggest losers would be the workers PENGASSAN pretends to be fighting for,” Mr. Okoroafor pointed out.
He made it clear that apart from worsening the situation in the industry, picketing could be fatal on small fledgling companies.
In talking to members of his group, Okoroafor advised them to create internal communications channels that would enable workers at all levels understand the business dynamics and state of affairs in the industry at all times.
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