Historical overview of the impact of global oil politics on prices, investments and employment relations in the industry in Nigeria (3)
NUPENG,PENGASSAN, together with their labour centres NLC and TUC must ensure that the gaps in our labour laws that have allowed employers latitude to abuse the rights and privileges of workers should be reviewed especially those which allows increasing substitution of formal workers with casual workers. Laws must be strengthened to protect workers and to also protect the industry.
A good start point is for the labour Unions to approach the National Assembly with a view to ensuring that all progressive labour bills that were not passed by the 6th and 7th National Assemblies are passed by the 8th National assembly. Also some Labour Bills like the Occupational Safety Bill which was passed by the National Assembly but not assented to by former President Goodluck Jonathan before leaving office, are passed into law.
6.5 Education and Training of members and labour leaders:
Education and training remain the most viable option for building capacity and transmitting the appropriate strategy of the Union’s top leadership for the current challenges facing the global and Nigerian oil and gas sector. To this end, I once more commend the leadership of NUPENG for this seminar. The truth is that an educated person is an empowered individual who become a great resource in co-creating win-win solutions, especially at this difficult times.
The trade union movement must therefore not allow itself to be left out in this quest for increasing capacity to understand our environment and co-create win-win solutions. We should seek out ways to train our cadres, our operatives, our officers and our general members. We must educate them on the dynamics of our industry, the society around us, our politics, economy and the global environment. Our social partners with whom we engage with are always involved in training, we should also take this more seriously to avoid falling behind.
Organise and re-organise
The strength of the trade union lies in its committed members and number. It is in its ability to mobilise large membership both directly and indirectly that provides the foundation for its effectiveness. The greater the membership of the unions, the greater its solidarities thus, the greater its strength. Organising is therefore at the heart of every trade union activity which it must determinedly pursue in its quest to remain strong that will put it in a better pedestal as it engages other social partners.
However organising in a period of global crises when organisations are embarking on redundancies and the unions are losing members is a difficult task. Nevertheless, it remains one of the activities the Unions must embark on successfully if it must continue to be relevant. It therefore calls for a more strategic approach to organising.
Increasing advocacy outreach to social partners and the larger society
When the movement begins a passionate and aggressive spreading of the gospel of the trade union movement amongst our social partners and of course the larger society, there will be a better understanding of what the movement stands for. This we believe will reduce confrontations and change perceptions in the minds of the social partners.
As negative perceptions are changed or conquered, some of the challenges confronting the movement would be overcome putting it on a better stead for survival into the future. The Movement must therefore seek to tell its own story and not wait for others to talk about it. All avenues must be exploited to get the stakeholders understand us, our dynamics, our functions and our achievements including our roles and values to them.
Finally, let me conclude by thanking you once again for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Let me also advise that at these difficult times both globally and locally for the Oil and gas industry, the Unions in the oil and gas sector –NUPENG and PENGASSAN together with their labour Centres NLC and TUC, must as a matter of necessity be part of the solutions to the challenges. They must proactively review their approach to industrial relations and embrace the partnership approach to industrial relations as a policy.
As a matter of utmost urgency, they must collaborate with other stakeholders in the Nigeria Oil and Gas sector to co-create win-win solutions and come up with ideas that will lift the industry from the current pit of miry clay to solid rock.
For instance, they must engage the government, the employers and their members to ensure that recommendations presented in this paper and in your workshop are given priority considerations. They must NOT stop at ideas and recommendations. They must also collaborate with other industry stakeholders, their members and their civil society partners to ensure that the ideas and recommendations are articulated, accepted by policy makers and effectively implemented for the overall good of the Nigerian oil and gas sector, and the Nigerian economy!
Thank you for your attention.
• Onuegbu is the state Chairman Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) Rivers State Council