By Victor Young
In a May Day message, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has advised employers in the nation oil industry against post-coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic anti-labour practices to ensure industrial peace in the petroleum industry.
In the May Day message to its members and other workers in the country, the union warned oil and gas companies not to exploit the current disturbing situation to declare unnecessary redundancies or inflict precarious and unfair labour practices on the workers that are already emotionally and psychologically traumatised .
The statement by its President and General Secretary, Prince Willams Akporeha and Afolabi Olawale respectively, NUPENG felicitated with the Nigerian working class , especially those in the oil and gas industry on the occasion of 2020 May Day.
However, NUPENG lamented that “unfortunately, 2020 May Day came with unprecedented issues and challenges arising from the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.
“The unfortunate situation has regrettably deprived working class people the usual unique atmosphere and opportunity to engage in the traditional parades, speech-making, rallies, merriments, funfair and other activities that are associated with this special moment on yearly basis.
“Notwithstanding, NUPENG is using this opportunity to commend and appreciate all frontline working people who are on daily basis being exposed to risks of infections and deaths due to complications of COVID-19 as humanity engages the unseen enemy in the strange global war.
“We salute the indomitable and patriotic fighting spirit of oil and gas workers, medical workers, law enforcement agents, market men/women, farmers, journalists, Drivers and other essential services workers for their invaluable services to the nation.
“We pray that God will continue to protect and strengthen them in this struggle, as they discharge their very humane, legitimate and selfless essential services to humanity.
“It is very imperative for us to use this opportunity to implore the Federal Government and other levels of governments to deepen the spread and expand the quantity of the palliative measures/ materials being put in place to cushion the impacts and effects of the pandemic and its associated lockdown on economic activities and earning powers of individuals and corporate entities.
“This should be most importantly,” the May Day message continued, “among the indigents and most vulnerable segments of the society so as to ease their pains, discomfort and hardship, so that there could be relative respite and peace in the society.
“NUPENG also empathises with various employers of labour across board, particularly in the oil and gas industry and expresses willingness to cooperate and work together with them in this turbulent journey for the survival of humanity and the challenges of revamping our workplaces.
“We shall be together when the sun rises once again and our machines in various factories roar back to life. It is very important to note here, that we received with deep sense of relief and hope, the report of the offer of the Department of Petroleum Resources to support the operations of oil and gas companies during the perilous period so as to avoid stoppage of operations and unnecessary loss of jobs by workers.
“On this promising note, we strongly implore oil and gas companies not to exploit the current disturbing situation to declare unnecessary redundancies or inflict precarious and unfair labor practices on the workers that are already emotionally and psychologically traumatised.
“The fear of how the workers are going to fare against the unknown enemy and the current economic hardships are already creating social upheavals to such an extent that any further loss of jobs in our industry would achieve nothing but complications and aggravation of an already bad situation.
“This is the time we should all come together to develop ways and means to save human race from the pandemic rather than being preoccupied with issues of pecuniary gains.
“We earnestly demand for mutual sacrifices and cooperation so that we can collectively defeat COVID- 19 and the associated hunger in the land for a better tomorrow.”
The union enjoined “all Nigerian workers to remain steadfast, disciplined, patriotic and patiently observe the rules of social distancing, washing of hands with soap and water, maintain good personal and respiratory hygiene and avoid non essential movements etc, even after the mandatory lockdown is relaxed or finally over.
“NUPENG further enjoins all our members to persevere and exercise extreme restraints at all times, as tough times don’t last but tough people do. Let us remain united and avoid divisive tendencies, because our unity is our strength,” the May Day message read.