The General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU), has urged government to fulfil its promise to work assiduously towards protecting the rights and interest of workers in the oil and gas industry, to fully utilise their potential to contribute to nation building.
This was contained in a proposal signed by the General Secretary of the GTPCWU, Mr Emmanuel Mensah at a day’s seminar, to ensure that adequate care regarding safety and environmental issues are featured prominently in the Oil and Gas Bill on accident-free, spillage and pollution.
This, the statement said, would enable all stakeholders in the upstream activities play their roles efficiently and effectively.
The GTPCWU urged government to put adequate infrastructures at the oil producing areas to facilitate the development of the human resource capital of the local citizens, to enable them to appreciate the current stage of the nation, as an oil producing country.
According to the GTPCWU, the security services and the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) should be strengthened to monitor the activities of the employers on the rigs and the production platform, to ensure that the ethics of decent work agenda are observed, for fair labour practices between workers and management.
The proposals continued that, trade unions have a role to play to ensure that wealth from oil and gas make a positive impact on the people, but unfortunately, it had been observed that organised labour had been left out of the Committee that was supposed to manage funds as stipulated in the Oil Revenue Management Bill currently before Parliament.
They said the biggest challenge faced by most oil producing countries were equitable distribution of revenue, good governance, transparency and democratic participation in processes concerning explorations, which had led to abandonment of important sectors, such as health, agriculture and education.
It said oil has undermined democracy in so many countries which had led to prolonged dictatorship and civil conflicts as well as the weakness of civil societies, which lack information and resources to hold government accountable.
The GTPCWU said since Ghana has found its oil at a time when there is an uncomfortable economic and social development situation in Africa, there was the need for a vibrant media, strong civil society and an effective framework for the conduct of public policy.
Mr Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, Deputy Minister for Energy in his reaction to the workers grievances, said government is conscious of the fact that the oil and gas was an opportunity to enhance the country’s growth and development.
He said all sectors of the economy, including organised labour, are positioning themselves for an accelerated growth, driven by the oil and gas industry.
He said government has shown its commitment by taking a number of important initiatives to make the Jubilee project happen, to ensure maximum benefits to all the major stakeholders in Ghana’s oil industry.
He gave the assurance that government would not allow its emerging oil industry to become a curse to the country, adding that, fresh legislation and policies have been developed to ensure transparency and accountability in the industry.
The Deputy Minister said the first of the two bills already laid in Parliament, would amend the Petroleum Act, by taking into account the new status as an oil producing country while the second, Revenue Management Bill, would set up an independent body to direct effective administration of oil revenues.
He said security is of utmost importance to the government, to protect the resources and the various installations, machinery and other facilities that are used in the exploration, production and transportation of oil and gas.
Mr Buah said the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing a Strategic Environmental Assessment plan to ensure that the environment is not destroyed through petroleum exploration and production activities.
The Deputy Minister said the Ministries of Energy and Education are collaborating to develop the necessary curricula for technical and vocational institutions, to enable them to meet the human resource requirements of the oil and gas industry.