Raymond Ozoji, Awka
The Port Harcourt zone of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has held a two-day conference geared towards strengthening and improving industrial relations.
At the conference, PENGASSAN concurred that industrial disharmony and strike actions were not the most veritable options in the pursuance of better working conditions for members. Rather the survival of parent organisations and unions were most paramount for a more symbiotic relationship.
Chikotel hotel Awka which was the venue of the conference featured lectures on industrial harmony and other non-rancourous means of resolving labour matters.
The Port Harcourt council zonal chairman of PENGASSAN Dr. Azubuike Madubuezi Azubuike in his speech said that the union believed in dialogue. He said the present administration was owing international oil companies over seven billion US dollars which made them stop investing in the nation’s oil and gas sector.
He said it was PENGASSAN that stood its ground and made sure that the federal government paid the seven billion dollars to the international oil companies for the oil and gas industry to stay afloat in the country.
Azubuike also disclosed that the Port Harcourt zone was in charge of oil and gas operations in the south east and south south regions of the country and that Anambra state was chosen for the PENGASSAN conference because the state governor Chief Willie Obiano is labour-friendly and does not owe workers’ salaries unlike what is obtainable in other states of the federation.
He however stated that the conference was organized to help the union handle issues of industrial relations as it concerns better conditions of service and survival of the companies. He also urged the federal government to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill into law to help revamp the nation’s oil and gas sector which he noted was the country’s solid revenue base and employment source.
The national president of the union comrade Olabode Johnson said PENGASSAN recognized the need to do soul-searching as well as look inwards to determine most appropriate way to handle issues of industrial relations without crisis and equally grow the organization where union members are employees.
The PENGASSAN national president however maintained that they must work together to ensure that both management and unions collaborate for the larger benefit of the company adding that there was need to synergies to avoid avoidable industrial disputes.
On the other hand, Comrade Jibrin Mohammed, zonal vice chairman Port Harcourt zone of PENGASSAN, noted that the conference was organized to train members of the union on the rudiments of industrial relations. According to him, development of the organization is of utmost importance and that the organization must exist for the labour unions to thrive in their quest for improved working conditions.
Zonal Public Relations Officer of PENGASSAN Port Harcourt zone Dr. William Mbuk said the conference hd improved the knowledge base of the trade unions. Mbuk noted that trade unionism was not all about fighting but the application of dialogue to resolve industrial issues.
He said the conference would help the unions achieve more robust relationship with management adding that unions and management would co-exist for the overall benefit of all and sundry.
The Port Harcourt zone image-maker of PENGASSAN also said that Anambra state was selected for the zonal conference because Governor Willie Obiano has maintained good working relationship with labour unions in the state as evident in the regular and prompt payment of salaries, gratuities and pensions respectively.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Anambra state governor on Petroleum and Union Matters Comrade Peter Nwosu said government was working assiduously to regulate the oil and gas sector in the state as it concerns proper siting of petrol stations to avoid unforseen contingencies.