PENGASSAN threatens nationwide strike

By Bimbola Oyesola

Oil workers, under the umbrella of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), have threatened to shut down the nation’s oil and gas industry if NOV Oil sacks any of its members.

This is even as the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the oil and gas industry regulator in Nigeria, has slammed a $250,000 fine on National Oilwell Varco (NOV) for anti-labour practices by the company.

According to PENGASSAN, the fine was imposed on the international oil company (IOC) for sacking 23 Nigerian employees without recourse to due process in March 2020.

The union alleged that NOV Oil had been flouting the directive by the DPR in 2014 and 2015 to put in place a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) before embarking on redundancy.

The industry regulator has reiterated its position to sanction any oil and gas company that fails to comply with its directive as well as provisions in Article 15a of the DPR regulations and 20 of Nigerian Labour law.

PENGASSAN, however, wants the  nation’s oil and gas regulator to impose further sanctions on NOV Oil, if it continues to disobey Nigeria labour laws and regulations.

Chairman of PENGASSAN, Lagos zone, Eyam Abeng, noted that NOV Oil’s management has a characteristic of sacking its workers without due process. He said PENGASSAN was demanding the reinstatement of the 23 workers sacked un-procedurally.

He alleged that Cesar Velasco, vice-president, well site services, usually misguided the company in taking decisions regarding labour matters.

He said, “They are in the habit of not respecting the laws of the land as regards labour practices. We are aware of what the company did in other countries, such as Angola, Congo, Ghana and Cameroon, among others. How the company started with over 100 workers and later reduced them to four or five.

“This is what National Oilwell Varco wants to do in Nigeria. It wants to (take jobs) offshore that can be done by Nigerians and which we have competent Nigerians to other countries like South Africa.”

Abeng said the company must put in place a CBA before going ahead with its redundancy plan, adding that “Nigerians should be adequately compensated, if the redundancy will impact on them.”

“PENGASSAN is ready to go all out to fight for the right of its members and ensure their job security,” he said.

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