WELCOME ADDRESS BY COMRADE (PRINCE) WILLIAMS AKPOREHA, NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF NUPENG AT THE 2022 NUPENG NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS SEMINAR HELD AT THE NAF CONFERENCE CENTRE IN ABUJA, FCT, FROM WEDNESDAY, 7TH – FRIDAY, 9TH DECEMBER 2022.PROSPER AKRAI
WELCOME ADDRESS BY COMRADE (PRINCE) WILLIAMS AKPOREHA, NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF NUPENG AT THE 2022 NUPENG NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS SEMINAR HELD AT THE NAF CONFERENCE CENTRE IN ABUJA, FCT, FROM WEDNESDAY, 7TH – FRIDAY, 9TH DECEMBER 2022.
Honourable Minister of FCT
Distinguished invited Guests
National Executive Council Members of NUPENG
Members of the Press
It is with great pleasure and honour that I welcome you all to the 2022 NUPENG National Industrial Relations Seminar in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. Our choice of Abuja for this year’s National Industrial Relations Seminar was informed by the need to have it in a serene atmosphere and the ambience for learning.
It is also a unique opportunity for fellow Comrades not only to go back to School but to fraternize and socialize in the midst of economic pressures affecting all of us today.
The National Industrial Relations Seminar is an Annual Event in our education Calendar. The only period we had a break was during the Covid-19 pandemic. But thank God, that has been put to rest now and we can gather and refresh our minds and patterns on modern day Industrial Relations practice. The fact is that we will not relent in our efforts to train and retrain our rank-and-file so that they will be abreast with modern trends in the industry.
The objective of the NUPENG National Industrial Relations Seminar is to educate and enlighten our members on topical issues as it relates to the Oil and Gas Industry, to promote cordial Employer and Employee relationship, all geared towards the development of our members.
The theme of this year’s workshop is: “Employment in the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry: Search for Decent Work and Industrial Harmony”.
This theme is very apt and in line with the challenges presently bedevilling the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria. There is an urgent need for a continued reappraisal of the relationship between the employers and employees in the Oil and Gas Industry to avert conflict and attain a decent work policy for our members.
The world is now a global village and technology has taken over. We cannot therefore afford to sit on the fence; hence the Unions commitment to make sure our members are trained both locally and internationally.
In this regard, we all desire for work opportunities that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in workplace and social protection for all, better prospects of personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives as well as equal opportunity and treatment for all women and men; that is Decent Work. But over the years, some employers of labour in the Oil and Gas Industry have neglected these principles of decent work. Employment in the oil and gas industry has been reduced to terrible working conditions and ill-treatment of workers.
The Employers have continued to embark upon casualization and outsourcing of workers without standard which is an abuse of human dignity and unfair treatment. These employers of labour in the oil and gas industry have put various hurdles on the track for workers not to unionize and express themselves, thereby infringing on their fundamental human rights and freedom of association.
The wages paid these workers in Nigeria are not commensurate with their output compared with their peers in other climes, as they are being exploited. As a matter of fact, what we should be propagating now is making sure oil and gas workers are well paid, ensuring safe and better working environment with social protection and safeguarding their rights and privileges. These are the factors that make up the standards for decent work and individual harmony in the workplace globally.
We are really disturbed by the attitudes of various managements in the maltreatment of workers through low wages, no-provision of safety tools at workplaces, resulting to complete dehumanization.
The panacea is to confront them headlong through advocacy, lobbying the National Assembly to enact laws to protect these workers. We shall embark on more picketing actions against these managements that are uncooperative and bent on engaging in unfair labour practices.
We are highly optimistic that at the end of this Seminar, our members would be highly equipped to reengage managements in a more robust technique of CBA that will eventually lead to an industry harmonized standard of compensation which will bring an end to the inglorious era of using contractors to maltreat and short-change workers.
Additionally, we are conscious of the threat by climate change and thus, the quest for Just Energy Transition. The Just Energy Transition is a response of workers all over the world to the threats posed by climate change and it is gaining momentum globally. These processes that are at the heart of the green economy must respect International Labour Standards.
It might interest you to know that yours truly and the General Secretary has been part of the climate change campaigns and advocacy in Seoul, South Korea and Kenyan, capital of Nairobi. And I can tell you it was an eye opener as those trips exposed us to a completely new transformation in the workplace. But what is most worrisome to me is that when the developed nations are already positioning themselves to the challenges of world of work, our employers here as still indulging in indecent employment system that lacks human face. Where major oil companies engage pay masters as manpower contractors and use employment of workers as public relations to politicians and community leaders is most unfortunate, and the resultant effect of that is slave and indecent work system.
I however use this opportunity to request that the time is now right for a harmonized working conditions in the oil and gas industry to forestall this brazen exploitation of Nigerian workers.
I also request our lawmakers to promulgate laws that should ban degrading employment systems where all manners of individuals who have no necessary prerequisite for manpower recruitment to do so as we have seen in the industry.
That the NUPENG leadership will be collaborating with our international affiliate and other well meaning civil society organizations to embark on a vigorous advocacy and industry actions against anti-Union/Labour employers in the industry. This modern- day slave employment must stop and now!
So, dear Comrades and other participants here present, let me confirm here again that climate change is real, and we must all be ready for it.
Permit me to use this opportunity to call on government agencies and our employers to appropriately engage and carry the Trade Unions along in all campaigns and deliberations as we all seek to make our world of work a better place to for the present and unborn generations.
As we are gathered here today to acquire more knowledge, this should excite all who seek the truth because if we know the truth, it should set us free; if not here, then in the hereafter.
Blessed are our teachers (resource persons) because they shall have their reward here on earth and in heaven, as I believe they will address these issues for the betterment of the Oil and Gas industry and Nigeria.
Let me not elaborate further on this topic, as an array of experts have been assembled to do justice to the issues and challenges in employment in the Nigeria oil and gas industry and the search for decent work and industrial harmony.
Fellow invited Guests, and seminar participants, I want to enjoin you to take the seminar lectures seriously as this is not a time for jamboree.
There is no knowledge that is lost, as whatever you learn during the seminar, will go a long way to improve your negotiation skills, and put you on a better pedestal.
However, all work and no play make jack a dull boy as you use the spare time to relax around your hotel and be security conscious.
Once again, I thank you for rapt attention as I welcome you all to the NUPENG 2022 National Industrial Relations Seminar.
Long live NUPENG!
Long live NLC!!
Long live IndustriALL!!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!