The Promotion of Good Industrial Relations in Oil and Gas Production and Oil Refining

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The promotion of good industrial relations in oil and gas production and oil refining. Report for discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on the Promotion of Good Industrial Relations in Oil and Gas Production and Oil Refining. ILO Sectoral Activities Programme. Geneva, 2002. iv + 64 pp. Annex, tables, graphs. 15 Swiss francs. ISBN 92-2-112812-1.

This report is part of the ILO's Sectoral Activities Programme, the purpose of which is to facilitate the exchange of information among constituents on labour and social developments related to particular economic sectors by holding tripartite meetings. The first such meeting on oil and gas production and oil refining was held in February-March 2002. This report reviews industrial relations in that sector.

The oil and gas production and the oil refining industries are known to be capital-intensive. If anything, the trend in capitalization is increasing, to the detriment of a once large and skilled workforce. The companies that once shed workers, owing to low oil prices and mergers, find, when they need to employ workers again, that the skill sets have been lost to the industry and that the number of graduates in petroleum disciplines has diminished. In the oil refining industry, which is less profitable than the oil and gas production industry, margins are volatile but employment on a global scale has remained unchanged for the past ten years as decline in one region is compensated by new capacity, and jobs, in another. Production capacity has increased in the Asia-Pacific region and in the Middle East, but it has declined in western Europe and in the former USSR.

As regards freedom of association, the few complaints that are presented to the ILO supervisory bodies do not, in any way, accurately reflect the extent of the violations that occur. One often-- used justification for restricting the right to strike in the oil and gas industries is the "essential services" argument. The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations states, however, that essential services are those services whose interruption would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population. …