Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has emphasised that the Federal Government will not accept any job loss in the oil and gas sector.
He assured unions in the sector that the government would forestall any threat to industrial harmony.
Ngige spoke at a meeting with members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUNPENG), Petroleum & National Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and contractors in oil and gas in his office.
He said if new jobs could not be created in the sector or other sectors, efforts must be made to keep the present jobs.
He said, “We all know that the backbone of the Nigerian economy for now is still the oil and gas. As the Minister of Labour and Employment, I am committed to forestalling any issue that could bring industrial unrest in the sector or threaten job security in the country.
“I wish to put on record that the Buhari administration has zero-tolerance for any form of job loss. If the oil and gas sector or any other sector for that matter cannot create new jobs, they must go the extra-mile to retain the existing ones. Any job loss has multiple adverse effects on the population.
“I have before me petitions, which border on industrial and employment relations – retrenchment, casualisation, redundancy as well as unfair treatment of Nigerians in the employ of the oil majors.
“I have, therefore, summoned this meeting for us to properly ventilate the issues and make a way for a speedy resolution, after which we shall hold stakeholders’ summit.”
On the vexed issue of expatriate quota, the minister said the ministry was already discussing with the Ministry of Interior to check the abuse of the nation’s immigration/labour laws and promised that the displacement of qualified Nigerians by foreigners would soon become a thing of the past.
Minister of State, Labour and Employment James Ocholi (SAN) harped on the readiness of the ministry to sustain industrial peace and harmony, stressing that the economic realities on the ground have made any job cut very unpalatable in view of its negative consequences on Nigerians.
NUPENG President Comrade Igwe Achese said the drop in the international price of oil was not a tenable reason for the continued enslavement of Nigerian workers through contract staffing and casualisation.
He argued that nowhere in the world are workers subjected to harsh and unfriendly labour environment as done by the oil majors in Nigeria.
PENGASSAN National President Comrade Francis Johnson called for the urgent passage of the Petroleum Industrial Bill (PIB) as a roadmap to the maintenance of peace and harmony in the oil and gas sector.
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