Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige has reiterated the zero tolerance of the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to job losses in the oil and gas or any other sector of the economy, assuring that any threat to industrial harmony must be nipped in the bud.
“We all know that the backbone of the Nigerian economy for now, is still the oil and gas. As the Minister of Labour and Employment, I am committed to forestalling any issue that could bring industrial unrest in the sector or threaten job security in the country.”
“I wish to put on record that the Buhari administration has zero tolerance for any form of job loss. If the oil and gas sector or any other sector for that matter cannot create new jobs, they must go the extra mile to retain the existing ones. Any job loss has multiple adverse effects on the population. ”
The Minister made the remarks in Abuja while addressing a crucial meeting with National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the contractors in the oil and gas sector.
“I have before me, petitions which border on industrial and employment relations – retrenchment, casual labour, redundancy as well as unfair treatment of Nigerians in the employment of the oil majors. I have therefore, summoned this meeting for us to properly ventilate the issues and make a way for a speedy resolution, after which we shall hold stakeholders’ summit”, Sen. Ngige said.
While speaking on the vexed expatriate quota issue, the Minister said, the Ministry was already in liaison with the Ministry of Interior and to check the abuse of the nation’s Immigration/Labour laws and promised that the displacement of qualified Nigerians by foreigners would soon become a thing of the past.
Also, while addressing the meeting, the Minister of State, Labour and Employment, James Ocholi harped on the pro-activeness of the Ministry to sustenance of industrial peace and harmony, stressing that the economic realities on ground have made any job cut very unpalatable in view of its negative consequences to Nigerians.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour, Dr. Clement Iloh in his contribution regretted that the Oil and Gas Guidelines have become obsolete and should therefore, be enhanced through the promulgation of a ministerial regulations so as to boost stability and sanity in the industry. He further said that many recruiters in the sector are yet to register or update their recruiter’s license, urging them to comply.
In the same vein, the President of NUPENG, Comrade Igwe Achese said the drop in the international price of oil was not a tenable reason for the continued enslavement of Nigerian workers through contract staffing and casual labour, arguing that nowhere in the world, are workers subjected to harsh and unfriendly labour environment as done by the oil majors in Nigeria.
Similarly, the National President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Francis Johnson called for the urgent passage of the Petroleum Industrial Bill as a road-map to the maintenance of peace and harmony in the oil and gas sector.