The Federal Government and key stakeholders in the oil and gas sector have been urged to accord priority attention to the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) outcome especially as it relates to labour issues and workers’ welfare.
Speaking to The Tide in Port Harcourt on Wednesday, the Chairman, PIB Committee of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Chika Onuegbu urged the Federal Government and key stakeholders to give the bill the necessary priority attention as the PIB outcome would help to strengthen the operations of the oil and gas sector as well as the future of Nigerian workers.
Onuegbu said that the PIB should be carefully examined to ensure that the provisions about staff transfers from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and other impacted subsidiaries are strictly adhered to without breaching such provisions in the bill.
He said that the 2012 NUPENG and PENGASSAN Joint National Committee on the PIB had emphasized the need to address the shortcoming of privatisation on workers in the post PIB era to ensure that no staff of NNPC loses his or her job or be allowed to be transferred on a condition of service that is less favourable than what they currently have under any guise.
Onuegbu, who was the immediate past chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Rivers State chapter, said that the current PENGASSAN PIB Committee has adopted the previous position of the committee, stressing that the provisions in the PIGIF are better than that of the 2012 PIB.
The labour leader urged the Federal Government to streamline its plan to change the ownership structure of the establishments in the petroleum sector, including asset sales, divestment and complete handover of its percentages and not to leave behind labour issues that would precipitate major industrial crisis within the oil and gas industry.
Labour Lauds Rivers Assembly Over Power Devolution
The organised labour in Rivers State has commended the Rivers State House of Assembly for backing power devolution in the country.
Speaking to The Tide, the chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Beatrice Itubo explained that the decision of the members of the assembly is a step in the right direction and good for the unity and stability of the country.
Itubo added that the lawmakers should call for contributions and input of the key stakeholders before passing into law several bills in the House.
She stressed that allowing critical stakeholders to make input would strengthen the tenets of democracy in the state and indeed Nigeria as majority of the people would better appreciate the bills through dissemination from the stakeholders.
She enjoined the Assembly to reexamine the issue of the local government autonomy proposed by both chambers of the National Assembly, stressing that the congress strongly believe that granting autonomy to the local government councils in Nigeria would strengthen and deepen democracy in the country.
The NLC boss added that the organised labour would continue to mobilize its members to support the assembly to perform its constitutional legislative duties in the state.
She further explained that labour in the state is prepared to partner the assembly in its determination to address the plight of the workers in the state.
She added that the organised labour would continue to commend the state government in its efforts to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
Ex-NLC Boss Tasks FG On Minimum Wage
A former President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Abdulwaheed Omar has urged the Federal Government to always implement the law on regular review of the national minimum wage to promote national growth.
Omar gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Abuja last Monday.
He said that the call for government to tackle the issue about minimum wage review had become important because of the delay in the implementation of the law.
According to him, the national minimum wage law prohibits employers from hiring workers for less than a given hourly, daily or monthly take home pay.
“The law was established to address issues faced by workers, I think the cause for review of the national minimum is welcomed; it is just that it is almost belated.
“The issue of minimum wage is an aspect of our law; it is now part of our law in Nigeria, so I did not even expect that it will take much time.
“In the first place, the law provides that the minimum wage should be reviewed every five years; the five years elapsed since 2015.
“So, I had expected that that very year government should have set up a tripartite committee then.
“It is not something that government should wait until NLC threatens to embark on strike before it sets up committee, it is about the law that should be respected,” Omar said.
He said although government had promised to review the national minimum wage by the third quarter of the year, it should put measures in place to sustain such and ensure effective implementation.
He said the N18, 000 minimum wage was long overdue for review and urged government to act promptly to improve the economic well-being of workers.
PenCom Recovers N1.34bn Pension
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has recovered pension contributions and interest totalling N1.34billion from defaulting employers during the third quarter of 2017.
The Commission in its 2017 third quarter report posted on its website said it used 55 consultants as recovery agents to get back the outstanding pension contributions and penalties from the defaulting employers.
PenCom said the affected employers were issued with appropriate notice to remit the outstanding pension contributions.
“During the quarter, the sum of N1.34 billion was recovered, this brings the total recoveries made since inception of the Recovery Agents’ activities in 2012 to N13.58 billion,” it stated.
On Pension contributions within the period, it indicates that the total monthly pension contribution by contributors from the public and private sectors into their Retirement Saving Accounts (RSA) was N4.38 trillion.
This, it said showed an increase of N135.22 billion representing 3.18 per cent over the total contributions as at the end of the previous quarter.
According to the report, the aggregate total contribution shows that the public sector contributed 51.34 per cent, while the private sector contributed the remaining 48.64 per cent.
It, however, pointed out that during the quarter under review; the public sector contributed 40.87 per cent of the total contributions received while the private sector contributed 59.13 per cent.
It further revealed that the aggregate total pension contribution of the private sector increased from N2.05 trillion as at second quarter of 2017 to N2.13 trillion as at third quarter of 2017, representing a growth of 3.89 per cent.
Also, the aggregate total pension contribution by the public sector grew by 2.52 per cent from N2.20 trillion to N2.25 trillion over the same period.
The statement noted that the commission continued the ongoing refund of contributions made by military and other security service agencies personnel exempted from the contributory pension scheme.
It added that during the quarter under review, the department responsible for military pensions processed 254 applications for the refund.
PenCom said N39.83 million was refunded to the contributors while the sum of N127.13 million, representing contributions made by the Federal Government on their behalf was returned to the contributory pension account.
The statement also indicated that 27 state governments have enacted laws to implement the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) as at the third quarter of 2017, while eight states were currently in the process of implementing the CPS law.
The report revealed that Yobe was, however, yet to commence the process of enacting a law on the CPS.
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