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Union Kicks Against PHRC Concessioning

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Controversy, uncertainty and confusion have continued to trail news of the Federal Government’s proposed concessioning of the Port Harcourt Refining  Company (PHRC) at Alesa-Eleme.
Despite the uncertain situation, the leadership of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has formed other major stakeholders to kick against any plan to concession the  refinery.
Speaking to The Tide in an exclusive interview in Port Harcourt,  Tuesday, the National President of the union, Comrade Igwe Achese, said that the concessioning of the refinery would not be in the best interest of the workers and their families.
Achese said that today in Nigeria, the worst sector that has been affected by job losses is the oil and gas sector, stressing that during the recent  drop in oil prices, most oil companies closed shop and sacked their workers.
The labour leader said that the union has been at the receiving  end of job losses with total depletion of its members.
He restated that the entire workforce of the Port Harcourt Refining Company where he  is on leave of absence to serve the union would never support the concessioning of the refinery to private enterprises.
He emphasized that experience has shown that the issues of collective bargaining were always non-transparent with the government, adding that rather than the latter contemplating the concessioning of the refinery to private company for the repair, operation and maintenance, should carry out a holistic Turn-Around Maintenance (TAM) of the refinery to meet up its optimal production capacity.
He advised the government to have a re-think on such concession plan, stressing that government  should give licenses for the operations of the modular refineries as had been demanded by the people of the Niger Delta region.
He called for improve welfare for the  workers in the oil and gas sector considering  the daily challenges faced by the workers.
Also speaking to The Tide, the President of Alesa-Eleme  Youth Council, Jima Obari, said that the youth of the Refinery’s  host community  must be carried along by the government in whatever policies concerning the refinery’s including concessioning.
Obari said that the community has suffered a lot in terms of environmental degradation, gas flaring and pollution from the operation of the refinery in Alesa Eleme.
Meanwhile, youths in the oil rich Niger Delta had on Tuesday vowed to shut down all oil operations in the region over the controversial concession of the refinery.
The group under the aegis of pan-Niger Delta Youth Leadership Forum  (PANDLEAF) in a statement by Famous Daunemigha, president and Michael   Ekpo, secretary, said they are not against privatization of the ailing refineries as a way of reviving them, but are rather against government’s plan to sell the refinery at the exclusion of host communities .
Furthermore, The Tide learnt that the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr, Ibe Kachikwu had while on a trip to Houston , USA in May this year stated that the Federal Government had got bids from investors to revamp the three refineries and would make known the preferred offers by September.
The Tide’s investigation revealed  startling fact that the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) had recently told newsmen that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) never approached the commission on any plan to grant a concession of the refinery or any other arrangement with any private company for the repair, operation and maintenance of the refinery.
The  Director-General of the ICRC Aminu Dikko, further explained that if there is such an arrangement, the NNPC is required under ICRC Establishment Act 2005 and National Policy on PPP 2009 to liaise with the commission for regulatory guidance prior to entering into any contract.

 

Philip Okparaji

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Labour

Labour Lauds Rivers Assembly Over Power Devolution

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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.

 

Philip Okparaji

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Labour

Ex-NLC Boss Tasks FG On Minimum Wage

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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.

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Labour

PenCom Recovers N1.34bn Pension

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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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