4 June, 2020After a worker lost his life at work, contract workers at international oilfield services company Schlumberger in Pakistan, formed a union to defend their rights in the workplace.
Schlumberger employs about 900 workers at various sites in Pakistan. Only around 320 of those are permanent; the remaining 580 employees are contract workers.
Many of the contract workers have worked in the company for more than ten years, usually with long hours, sometimes made to work in very difficult circumstances in fields far away and even exposed to armed groups.
As opposed to permanent workers, contract workers were faced with job insecurity, paid less and denied bonuses and benefits. Whenever they demanded their rights, they were threatened with assignments further away.
In February, a contract worker Ahmed Nawaz Khan, died at work. Despite official acknowledgement that Khan died while working in the factory, management refused to provide due compensation.
Against the backdrop of continued denial of their rights, contract workers decided to form a union, reaching out to IndustriALL affiliate All Pakistan Oil & Gas Employees’ Federation (APOGEF) for support. IndustriALL called on Schlumberger to respect union rights, provide appropriate compensation, adhere to labour laws and regularize contract workers.
The workers made significant progress towards achieving the right to freedom of association when their union was registered with the National Industrial Relations Commission in May 2020.
Malik Abdul Hameed, general secretary of the Schlumberger Pakistan workers union, says:
“We registered our union after our members’ steadfast struggle. We acknowledge the valuable solidarity support extended by APOGEF and IndustriALL.
“Currently, all our union members are contract workers and are looking to engage in collective bargaining and social dialogue to win decent work in our workplace.”
IndustriALL Global Union congratulates Schlumberger workers and their national union APOGEF for their determined struggle for dignity, fundamental rights and finally union recognition. This is the best way to protect and advance workers’ rights and interests.
Schlumberger is one of the world’s leading oil services providers with drilling, production and processing, employing 103,000 people in more than 120 countries.