The Federal Government has asked oil majors, which recently sacked some of their workers, to recall the affected employees.
In order to retain jobs in the oil and gas sector, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, also asked the firms to reduce the salaries of top management staff.
Ngige, at the reconvened meeting with the Petroleum Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and representatives of some oil companies in Abuja on Wednesday, reiterated the commitment of the government to job creation.
He warned indigenous and international oil companies that the government would not tolerate indiscriminate retrenchment of workers regardless of the economic downturn, saying that one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration was to create jobs.
A statement by the Ministry of Labour and Employment stated that a resolution had been reached on the allegation of the retrenchment of 20 NUPENG members by Universal Energy Limited in preference for contract workers and in contravention of redundancy clauses of labour laws.
Based on accusations by the unions that FUGRO Nigeria Limited sacked 25 workers, six of who were executive members of PENGASSAN and NUPENG, the ministry asked the company to maintain the status quo on the issue.
Ngige said, “After a long deliberation, we resolved all the contentious issues. FUGRO Nigeria Limited has to revert to the status quo and open up discussions on the redundancy situation with the unions. They have a time limit of two weeks to report back to the ministry.
“Universal Energy also has to revert to the status quo; meaning that the retrenched staff members have to return to work. They are expected to open up fresh redundancy talks to be monitored by the South-South Zone of the Ministry of Labour in Uyo, and give us a feedback within two weeks.”
The minister added, “The Federal Government is irrevocably committed to job creation notwithstanding the present economic downturn. Our expectation is that where jobs cannot be created, we should at least retain the existing ones.
“The oil majors, international and indigenous, should resist the disproportionate reduction of their corporate social responsibilities to their workers in reaction to low returns; the workers should be engaged. Let’s slice the allowances, especially at the top, and retain the jobs.”
He commended PENGASSAN for its cooperation towards finding a permanent solution to the disputes in the sector.