14 April, 2022What will a Just Transition in Nigeria’s oil and gas industries look like, and what are the demands from the workers and the trade unions? These are the questions that 458 delegates at the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG)’s grappled with at the 5th Quadrennial Delegates Conference.
NUPENG, which is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, hosted the conference in Asaba, Delta State on 5 April under the theme: “Just energy transition for oil and gas workers, social welfare and security.”
Speaking at the conference which is the highest organ of the union and a democratic platform for delegates which sets the agenda and mandates, Prince William Akporeha, NUPENG president said:
“The conference theme was carefully and appropriately chosen in line with the new realities of climate change. The current major energy sources are the main catalysts for climate change that the world is witnessing. Therefore, there is need to transition to more sustainable energy sources for both industrial and domestic production. Importantly, the global trade union movement is demanding a Just Transition that will take into cognizance the socio-economic impact on the working people.”
The issues discussed at the conference included the union’s 40th anniversary, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the oil and gas sector especially on retrenchments, fighting for workers’ rights through improving industrial relations and collective bargaining, and confronting precarious working conditions. Further, the conference called for national policies that supported the building of new oil refineries and sustainable industrialization that created decent jobs in the sector. The union also called upon the Federal Government of Nigeria to improve security in the country to stop “senseless killings, kidnappings” and conflict in some communities.
On its victories the union mentioned fighting precarious work at Shell and said IndustriALL’s support at Shell was valuable as it led to the signing of a collective bargaining agreement for contract workers with the Shell Petroleum Development Company. At Chevron, 1710 workers were paid their full terminal benefits while valiant energy also paid terminal benefits to 39 workers. To strengthen the union, women’s committees have been set and young workers are represented through a youth council.
Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa who attended the meeting said:
“It is important that you are meeting as part of the union’s democratic traditions to set the agenda and renew mandates for the NUPENG leadership. Participatory democracy is important in building union power. We must never forget that the Just Transition is a working class concept that emerged out of the trade union movement to protect and advance workers’ rights and interests. In this sense a just energy transition must support the decent work agenda – promote job creation, guarantee rights at work, extend social protection, and promote social dialogue.”