The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has described the sacking of workers by some oil and gas companies for active unionism as oppressive and the height of high handedness on the part of the firms.
NUPENG in a statement on Wednesday signed by its President, Williams Akporeha, accused the management of Sterling Energy Exploration Company (SEEPCO) and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Ltd, of denying workers their rights to unionise.
The union, therefore, called on the authorities and other relevant stakeholders in the sector to wade into the issue without delay to avert an industrial crisis in Kwale, Warri area of Delta.
The statement said, “For the records, five drilling oil rigs being operated by Sterling Energy Exploration Company (SEEPCO) and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Ltd in Kwale, Warri, have been in operation for several years.
“The period has witnessed continuous refusal by the management of these drilling companies to allow workers to join the union.
“Workers of these drilling rigs have overtly indicated their willingness and readiness to join the unions of their choice and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers has responded appropriately to the request.
“Unfortunately, the management of SEEPCO and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Ltd have resulted to high handedness and violence through the use of military men and armed militias to forcefully evacuate over 2, 500 workers from the five drilling rigs.
“These companies are Indian operated companies and NUPENG found it grossly unfortunate and unacceptable that these companies would be using brute force to dehumanise, terrorise, and victimise Nigerians in their own country.”
NUPENG vowed not fold its arms while its members were being dehumanised in the course of demanding for their legitimate rights as recognised by labour laws and the International Labour Organisation charter.
To avoid further escalation, NUPENG urged the authorities, particularly the Federal Government and its agencies, to call the management of the companies to order, while directing them to follow the path of best practices by granting the legitimate wishes of the workers.
NUPENG also called on its members to be “on red alert” as they might be called upon at very short notice to withdraw their services nationwide in solidarity with their oppressed colleagues if the situation was not addressed immediately.