By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its committee on labour, employment and productivity to investigate the allegations of violation of labour laws by international oil companies (IOCs)including the casualisation of labour and report back within (four)weeks for further legislative action.
The House equally asked the minister of labour, employment and productivity and other appropriate ministries, departments and agencies to address the challenges of exploitation and abuses of workers in the oil and gas sector.
This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu (APC,Abia) at yesterday’s plenary.
Leading debate on the motion, Kalu said Nigeria, as a member of the International Labour Organization(ILO), has ratified 40 international labour conventions and has through the National Assembly, enacted the labour Act, among other labour related laws,by which Nigeria is sworn to protecting the rights of workers in the country.
He lamented that the ugly trend of work informalization or casualization in the oil and gas sector by International Oil Companies (lACS)leading to an uncertainty of employment for thousands of workers who are constrained to operate under very precarious conditions with near total denial of the benefits associated mentioned event work.
He informed that a report published by the campaign for democratic workers right the number of casual workers in the Nigeria 45%,and also stated that 50% of the burden of casual is action exists in thee oil and gas sub sectors of the economy, as communication, banking, construction, mining and some other workplaces.
Kalu noted that since the early 2000s,the Nigerian oil sector has suffered the edge incessant disputes between international oil companies (IOCs) and organized labour unions over allegations of unfair labour practices levies against in result of which, on several occasions, the Nigerian union of petroleum and natural gas workers (NUPENG) had planned industrial actions which had threatened nationwide fuel scarcity and economy as Nigeria stands to lose over 100 bumper day in the event of a industrial strike action by up end.
The House spokesman recalled that sometime in July 2018, in light of the frequency of those allegret to, the federal government announced a plan to reform the process of granting and renewing recruits license to labour contractors with the aim of ensuring adherence to expatriate quotas an eschewing unfair labour practices, despite allegations of unfair labour practices by IOCs still abound.
He further informed that the leadership of NUPENG after a recent meeting of their Central Working Committee (CWC) in Lagos, where fresh allegations were levied against IOCs for “flagrantly flouting local and international labour laws and repeatedly engaging the services of unregistered and unlicensed labour contractors”
The lawmaker added that the IOCs were also accused of “massive exploitation and abuse of workers of elopement of IOCs contractors with contract workers; including in one case, Virtual Travel Network allegedly eloping with terminal benefits of 48contract workers since 2015and in another, logistics facility affairs (LFA) contractor with Chevron Nigeria Limited allegedly absconding with workers final entitlements; and engaging in recruitment practices without adherence to expatriate quota and local content”.