Following alleged plan by major oil companies to lay off 10,000 workers due to the dwindling price of crude in the international market, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige has called on the operators in the sector to shelve such plans so as to avoid throwing the nation into a huge social upheaval, saying that a crucial joint labour-oil sector meeting has been scheduled next week to resolve some emerging issues in the industry.
The Minister who stated this Friday during a meeting with major oil companies in Nigeria, emphasized that the nation is already facing a lot of social security problems and cannot afford more to be created through job cuts.
“The oil majors in Nigeria must therefore bend backwards and see what they can plough back from their profits to keep Nigerian workers at their duty posts,” the Minister said.
Speaking further, Sen. Ngige assured the oil majors that the present economic down turn will not last forever.
According to him, “keep the existing jobs as nothing lasts forever. We have a downturn today but you can be sure it will not last forever. If you are not creating new jobs, let us keep the ones we have. That is what this government is pleading and we must emphasize that is what we want.”
He said because oil and gas sector remains the financial backbone of the Nigeria’s economy for now, any threat of industrial unrest therein should be nipped in the bud.
He added that he has received a plethora of petitions from unions in the sector, bordering on industrial and employment relations such as casualization, redundancy, threat of retrenchment and unfair labour practices among others.
Speaking on behalf of the International Oil Companies present- Agip, Mobil Producing, Chevron Addax and Total, the Director of Human Resources and Medical, Chevron Nigeria Limited, Ihuoma Onyearughe appreciated Federal Government’s efforts at stabilising the economy and ensuring industrial harmony in the sector, while appealing for understanding and collaboration on the part of the government in view of the current challenges facing the industry.
“The issue of laying people off is not a decision that comes lightly. I will not come here to tell you that people are being laid off or not. The situation in the oil company is dire. We want to ask for more understanding in appreciation of the challenges we face. Nevertheless, we have heard the Hon. Minister and we will take your message back to our various companies,” she said.
She also pleaded with the Minister to protect the oil majors from unnecessary harassment from the labour unions who usually close their eyes to unfair labour practices by the “Employment Contractors” who do not remit workers’ pension and compensation funds, but harass and turn the heat on the oil companies.