The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) thursday issued a 14-day strike notice to the federal government over unresolved disputes with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Chevron Nigeria Limited and Agip Oil Company.
President of NUPENG, Achese Igwe, who gave the notice of strike at a press briefing in Lagos, alerted on an indefinite nationwide strike should government fail to convey stakeholders’ national conference to address labour issues in the oil and gas industry at the expiration of the ultimatum.
Igwe lamented the worsening unfair labour practices by multinational oil companies operating in the country particularly SPDC, Chevron and Agip Oil, accusing them of inflicting inhuman treatment on Nigerians.
He contended that if the agreement reached with the multinational companies at a meeting called by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, in May 2012, was implemented, these issues would have been resolved.
Specifically, Igwe accused Agip Oil of terminating the appointment of 93 contract workers that had worked between 25 and 35 years, without benefits despite a directive by the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
Igwe accused Chevron of not only converting workers from contract labour to service labour but refusing them the right to collective bargaining agreement and to unionise.
According to him, contract workers in Agip were presently on strike in Port Harcourt, adding that if the issue was not resolved as soon as possible, it would degenerate into national strike because of issues in SPDC and Chevron.
“We can no longer fold our arms and allow fellow Nigerians to be enslaved in their country. Before now, Chevron had what was called the big six contractors paying over 1800 workers. Some of the workers had worked for over 30 years and were unionised. Suddenly, Chevron terminated their appointments and said it was rolling them over.
Before we knew what was happening, Chevron balkanised the six contractors into 16 contractors and brought back these workers under service labour, refusing them to be unionised and denying them other rights.
“Under the service labour, their jobs are no longer safe, meaning they can be sacked any day without notice.”
For Agip, 93 contract workers were sacked without paying them terminal benefits. These workers were interviewed and employed by Agip and handed over to contractors to be paying them. Some of them had served the company for over 30 years. When the issue was reported to the Ministry of Labour in Port Harcourt, Agip was directed to pay their terminal benefits. As we speak, it has refused. Apart from that, Chevron also promoted 96 contract workers who were NUPENG members to PENGASSAN contract staff instead of converting them to permanent staff having spent over 15 years as contract workers.
“Presently, the contract staff are on strike, and any moment from now, it will snowball into a nationwide strike. We are giving the federal government, the Ministry of Petroleum, the National Assembly among other well meaning Nigerians and groups, a 14-day ultimatum to intervene and summon an all embracing stakeholders national conference to address all labour issues in the industry failing which, we will declare an indefinite nationwide strike,” he said.