The Head of the Union of Oil Workers, Saad Dinar Al-Fakhri, confirmed that the last meeting with the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Oil Corporation, Mustafa Sanalla, was held in “an atmosphere that promises good and provided solutions to end the crisis of weak funding from the authorities that prevent the corporation from achieving its goals and supporting workers.”
In an interview with “218News”, Al-Fakhi thanked Allah for efforts to ensure the unity of the sector and its neutrality from disputes, and to workers in the oil sector for continuing to work despite various obstacles such as scarcity of budgets that delayed receiving their dues.
218News: How was the labor union established and from where does it derive its legitimacy in light of the division of state institutions?
Al-Fakhi: Of course, the union began according to the international convention on organizing trade union work, which the Libyan state signed, and in Libya there is Law No.23 that regulates union work.
218News: How was the current General Union of Oil and Gas Workers formed?
Al-Fakhri: The General Union of Oil and Gas Workers was formed on November 27, 2012 during the first oil conference, where a meeting was held for all oil companies in Benghazi, and the first board of directors of the Union of Oil and Gas Workers representing all workers was formed, and we officially announced it in the closing session and we started to operate immediately. We derive legitimacy from workers in the oil sector. Of course, trade unions and trade unions are elected within the companies, and then a body to represent these unions is chosen, and this is how the General Union of Oil and Gas Workers in Libya was chosen.
218News: What is the role of the trade union and its affiliated unions?
Al-Fakhri: Trade union activity is concerned with the affairs of workers and their issues, as we follow labor issues concerning employees in general, as for the unions and federations that follow the
companies discuss internal issues to preserve the rights and entitlements of workers, when the issues are general at the state level, we follow them as a union with the institution and the Libyan state.
218News: What do you mean by general cases?
Al-Fakhry: For example, this issue of raising wages concerns most companies.
218News: What are the oil companies that belong to the General Union of Oil and Gas Workers? We see multiple designations, east and west. This leads us to ask.
Al-Fakhri: All the corporation’s affiliated companies signed the founding of the federation in 2012, and the General Union of Oil and Gas Workers is an alternative to what was previously called the General Oil Syndicate or the Oil and Gas Professional Conference. As for the name of the National Oil Corporation’s Employees Union, it has several branches such as the oil aviation or the qualitative center for training and qualification and the oil research center, the oil institute, or the oil clinic; these are not unions but basic mini professional unions formed in the period of some companies, management unions were formed that were approved by the Union of Oil and Gas Workers, such as the trade union of the Zawiya Oil Refining Company, which are management unions, with which elections will be launched soon.
218News: What are the companies that belong to the General Union of Oil and Gas Workers?
Al-Fakhri: Most of the 18 major companies, such as the Waha Oil Company, the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, the Ras Lanuf Oil and Gas Manufacturing Company, the Al-Jouf Petroleum Technologies Company, the North Africa Company, the Libyan-Emirati Lerco Company, the Sirte Oil and Gas Manufacturing and Production Company, and the Harouge Oil Operations Company.
218: What about the Mellita oil and gas companies and Al-Mabrouk for oil operations?
Al-Fakhri: Mellita and Al-Mabrouk do not have unions, and we will work urgently in the coming period to form unions for them.
218News: How does the lack of support affect your performance and fulfillment of your requirements?
Al-Fakhi: The union has gone through many problems and circumstances due to the absence of funding, and we have faced many divisions and have not received any money since its establishment, and the union is still coherent and strong. We count on the National Oil Corporation and its companies to provide us with the necessary logistical support to try to facilitate our work, and we will work to activate membership subscriptions soon.
218News: What happened between you and the engineer, Mustafa Sanallah, in his last meeting with the Arabian Gulf Company?
Al-Fakhi: This meeting is different and it came in an atmosphere promising good and with proposed solutions to end the crisis of lack of funding from the authorities that prevent the institution from achieving its goals and supporting the workers. Engineer Sanalla is a good listener and always in the line of workers and opens the doors for us to debate and meeting and confirms the institution stands on the side of the worker without a doubt.
In the last meeting with Eng. Mustafa Sanallah, Jadallah Al-Awkali and the heads of the committees of the Arab Gulf Oil Companies, the Sirte Oil and Gas Production Company and the Ras Lanuf Oil and Gas Manufacturing Company, we discussed the negative effects of poor funding and the consequences thereof, and how to improve and provide services related to training and improving the conditions of workers and providing salaries and entitlements. Without any delay, and improving supply services in fields and ports, frankly, all attendees were at the level of workers and assured me of their support and the importance of the human element, and the National Oil Corporation informed us that things will improve upon receiving budgets on a regular basis.
218News: What about the question that concerns all workers, without exception, and grabs their attention, which is the decision to raise wages No. 642?
Al-Fakhi: Yes, Eng. Sanallah informed me of a correspondence addressed to the Ministry of Oil of the National Unity Government, in which he asks the authorities to raise the wages of workers. Also, Engineer Sanallah confirmed that the institution is committed and continues to support and follow up the wage increase decision, which was transferred years ago to the competent authorities, but the authorities are delaying In its implementation. The decision to raise wages has been drawn up in all budgets submitted to successive governments, and we are waiting for the Ministry of Oil to comment on the lack of implementation of the decision.
218News: What about discrepancies in the provision of healthcare services?
Al-Fakhri: The National Oil Corporation told us that upon receipt of the budget, it will start activating health care for all, and the scarcity of resources prevents this. We are working with the least means.
218News: Why do we see deficiencies or shortcomings in some aspects of the union?
Al-Fakhi: Of course, we work in a country that suffers from instability, and we apologize for any shortcomings. We are part of this country and we are undoubtedly affected by it.
The interview was conducted by the writer in the field of oil and gas: Ali Al-Farsi.