PENGASSAN threatens to shut down oil installations

By Kelvin Onyema

04 March, 2021

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has threatened to shut down oil installations nationwide over alleged anti-labour practices by an oil and gas firm, Brittania-U.

PENGASSAN, which issued the threat, yesterday, when it picketed Brittania-U at its corporate head office in Lagos, with members carrying placards and chanting solidarity songs, said that if by Friday the firm refused to meet its demands, it would mobilise all companies and affiliates in the sector to shut down all oil and gas installations across the country.

Acting Chairman of PENGASSAN, Lagos Zone, Eyam Abeng, alleged that the Brittania-U, an indigenous company, has exhibited the most notorious anti-labour practice in the oil and gas industry, with an unsafe workplace.

He alleged that the firm frustrates and terminates the employment of Nigerian workers who aspire to unionise and identify with labour unions.

Abeng noted that PENGASSAN, which has been asking Brittania-U since 2017 to resolve labour issues amicably, had initially given the firm a 14-day ultimatum, with additional seven days, to redress its anti-labour practices but to no avail.

He listed the alleged anti-labour practices by the firm as precarious work environment, flouting of Section 40 of Nigeria’s constitution on freedom of association, lack of respect for collective bargaining agreement (CBA), disobedience of International Labour Organisation (ILO) No. 87 on the right of workers to establish or join a trade union, an unjustifiable sack of employees and non- payment of statutory allowances, among others.

National Treasurer of PENGASSAN, Victor Ononokpono, who said it was a coincidence that the picketing happened when the nation is battling with a shortage of fuel supply.

National Public Pelations Officer of PENGASSAN, Anietie Udoh, said: “PENGASSAN is not known to be frivolous, we have exhausted all known means of resolving the issues amicably”.

The expiration of the ultimatum coincided with when the nation is battling with fuel scarcity. Each day, we wait for years, families, who are dependent on the workers are suffering, they are being exposed to a safety hazard. If we say we should hold action due to the scarcity of fuel in the country, do you know how many families are being affected? This should move beyond what we see. How do we have a petroleum product abundant in this country, yet we suffer so much for it? It is an aberration.”

When The Guardian contacted the Chief Executive Officer of Brittania-U, Uju Ifejika, she said she was in a meeting and did not respond to the text message sent to her phone for reaction to the allegation at press time.