Oil workers threaten strike over alleged anti-labour practices at FTZ

The Unions say the Onne Free Trade Zone engages in anti-labour practices against their members.

Oil workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, have threatened to shut down oil and gas operations in Onne Free Trade Zone, FTZ, over alleged anti-labour practices against their members.

The zone comprises Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra and Benue States.

The workers, in a communiqué at the end of a joint National Executive Council, NEC, meeting of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, NUPENGASSAN, in Calabar, Cross River State warned that their members would withdraw their services within the next three weeks if steps are not taken by the FTZ management to address the issues they have raised.

Expressing worry over the continuing anti-labour disposition of companies operating in the Onne FTZ, the workers drew attention to refusal of the authorities of the zone to heed the advice by the Labour Minister, Emeka Wogu, to respect the constitutional rights of workers to join trade unions and bargain collectively.

“NEC-in-Session notes that these companies in connivance with the Authority of the Free Trade Zone have continued to deny Nigerian workers these inalienable constitutional rights,” the workers said in the communiqué.

“We observe that managements of the various companies in the Free Trade Zone continue to harass, intimidate and victimise workers. Consequently, NEC-in-Session hereby directs the Port-Harcourt Zone of NUPENG and PENGASSAN to shut down all oil and gas operations in Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra and Benue States if these matters are not resolved within three weeks,” the workers warned.

They reminded Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, to honour the agreement reached at the joint meeting of NUPENGASSAN on September 21, 2010 on the Rivers State Social Levy.

The agreement, they said, included a review of the levy for those earning below N100, 000 to be treated as workers in the public sector; inclusion of two representatives of NUPENG and PENGASSAN in the Board of Governors of the new schools; commitment that the rate of the social services levy would not be subject to further review; and inclusion of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, on the Board of Trustees of the Social Service Contributory Trust Fund.

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