Monday, April 29, 2013

Nigerian Labor Unions Urge Passage of Petroleum Industry Bill

NLC, NUPENG urge speedy passage of PIB

SUNDAY, 28 APRIL 2013 21:05
Nigerian Guardian

Allege govt involvement in oil theft

IF the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) is not passed into law in the next six months, the oil sector would be in deeper crisis, labour leaders warned as they pushed for the passage of the bill in Lagos at the weekend.

Speaking under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), they maintained that the new regulations in the bill were necessary to accommodate newer investors, arrest oil theft and stabilise the sector as the mainstay of Nigerian economy.

Among those who spoke at the NUPENG Special Delegates Conference in Lagos were the NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar, his counterpart in NUPENG, Achese Igwe, and former leaders, Frank Kokori, Peter Akpatason, Samuel Dada, Joseph Akinlaja, Principe Awe and Chris Uyok.

According to Omar, “NUPENG must do all that is necessary to ensure that the PIB, when passed into law, serves the interest of workers and aligns with national interest.” He explained that the NLC was bothered about the continuous theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta region right in the presence of task force men and huge investment on security infrastructure in the oil-producing region.

Stating that the value of crude stolen in the country yearly is as much as $7 billion, he said it was totally unacceptable to Nigerians and the international community to see such wastage continue unabated.

“The massive theft of crude oil in the Niger Delta is an act of conspiracy by a cross-section of government officials and their foreign collaborators to exploit the larger population,” Omar alleged. “Our fear is that with such amount of oil being siphoned, all the economic calculations and projections are now null and void.

To avoid the looming danger, Omar urged NUPENG and allied unions to condemn the oil theft in Nigeria, assuring of NLC’s partnership in that struggle.

On his part, NUPENG President, Achese, called on the lawmakers to ensure quick passage of the bill “after looking at the grey areas with objectivity,” especially on labour issues of gratuities, pensions, transfers and status of its members in new companies that will emerge.

Stating that their sector is the most endangered with the consequent downsizing and rightsizing, Achese said the PIB would bring in a lot of reforms, and should, therefore, accommodate severance packages for the oil workers it would affect.

However, he advised the Federal Government to assemble the illegal refiners the Niger Delta region, give the operatives further training and establish legal refineries for them to work in “instead of chasing them around the creeks and destroying their technology.”

Meanwhile, Akpatason, a serving member of the House of Representatives, told the delegates that the oil sector would be in deeper crises unless fresh laws were introduced to regulate it. According to him, “current investors in the sector are winding up their activities and without newer investors, Nigeria will be in trouble because the oil industry is the mainstay of the economy.”

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