IndustriALL Team Up With NUPENG To Organise 7,500 Casual Workers

 IndustriALL Team Up With NUPENG To Organise 7,500 Casual Workers

Over the past 18 months, two IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Nigeria have succeeded in organising around 7,500 contract and casual workers in the country’s oil and gas supply chain with substantial support from a union project against precarious work.

The global body said the fight against precarious work by the National Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) has been an uphill battle with multinational companies in the sector opposing them at every turn.

The union project in Nigeria, supported by IndustriALL affiliates FNV (Netherlands), CSC-BIE (Belgium) and FCE-CFDT (France), is part of a wider precarious work project that also includes Cameroon and Senegal. It also included support for a NUPENG and PENGASSAN workshop in Lagos in July 2017, which aimed to reinforce organisers’ and shop stewards’ capacity to organize precarious workers.

Both NUPENG, which represents junior employees and PENGASSAN, which represents senior employees, have a long history of fighting against casualization and contract work in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria.

Major oil and gas multinational companies present in Nigeria, including Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Agip and others, began outsourcing of jobs in the 80s and 90s. Today, agency and outsourced workers represent the majority of the workers in the oil and gas industry.

Herculean task

IndustriALL maintained that organising precarious workers in the oil and gas supply chain in Nigeria was a Herculean task.

According to the global labour body, multinationals and contractors prevent workers from joining the unions, while community associations negotiate recruitment and promotions for their members at the oil companies through intermediaries.

“This indirectly weakens the unions. Companies in the sector are using an increasing number of contractors which fragment the workforce. Some contractor companies are no more than letterbox entities, enabling them to avoid their legal obligations. Worse still, organizers are subject to attacks, and even kidnapping”, IndustriALL said.

It noted futher that multinational companies have replaced direct employment with third party contracts, destroying job security and permanent employment benefits and contributing to the further impoverishment of workers.

It added, “Furthermore, these contracts were concluded for only three months, making it difficult for workers to join a trade union for fear of retaliation and non-renewal of their contract. In effect, multinationals operating in cahoots with third parties have tried to subvert Nigeria’s labour laws and limit the right of workers to join trade unions. Challenging this contract labour system is tough because of an ineffective judicial system in Nigeria, which delays the hearing of labour cases in the courts.”

IndustriALL also expressed how out-dated refinery has impacted negatively on the nation’s capacity to boost investment, sustain and create more jobs.

“More jobs are lost to other countries in the export of crude oil, while state owned refineries are operating at less than 30 per cent of their capacity”, it said.

It also noted how more jobs are lost in the petrochemical sector due to on-going social and political conflicts, criminal activities damaging oil pipelines, and social unrest on oil related matters.

Putting the brakes on outsourcing

It explained equally how the two unions came under one umbrella of NUPENGASSAN to curtail the menace of outsourcing in the sector.

The project which has enabled both unions to organize thousands of precarious workers in the downstream and upstream sectors of the industry. Through the efforts, both unions  have managed to secure permanent jobs for 200 contract workers in 2016.

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