NUPENG President, Mr. Igwe Achese
By Linda Eroke
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has given the Federal Government till Friday to prevail on management of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) to pay the entitlements of its contact workers.
NUPENG said if the option fails, it would mobilise its members for a nationwide strike.
The oil workers union also called on management of Chevron to reverse the termination of appointment of members warning that the union will not condone a situation whereby the contractual agreement is terminated and a new contract for service providers created.
NUPENG President, Mr. Igwe Achese, gave the strike notice at a press conference held Tuesday at the union’s secretariat in Lagos.
Achese warned that if the two multinationals fail to address the labour-related issues that have led to the picketing of their offices, the union may be forced to employ more stringent industrial action to pursue its case.
He said the management of Chevron had claimed that they received approval from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to transfer the employment of their employees to labour service providers, describing the move as unjustifiable and discriminatory.
According to him, the new service providers will at their discretion appoint new workers, who may not even be allowed to unionise, noting that members that had divested to new investors have lost their jobs.
He said the ongoing picketing of Shell formations will continue nationwide until the management of the oil company accedes to the union’s demand.
He lamented that members in Port Harcourt and Warri were shut out by military personnel hired by management to frustrate the protest even as he announced that workers in the region have been directed to proceed on an indefinite strike.
“It is no longer news that we have a great challenge in the oil and gas sector as labour dispute with the two multinationals have been on for over one year. We will not stop at picketing them but hope that government will heed to the union’s call and save Nigerians from the hands of these multinationals who have been enslaving Nigerian workers in the name of contact employment, casualisation and new divestment policy.
“We have taken up issues in SPDC where contract workers who have put in between five to twenty (20) years without conditions of service were asked to go with just one month salary because SPDC are divesting the business in the oil and gas sector.
“This is unacceptable to us. We cannot fold our hands as a union that is supposed to protect the interest of our workers to allow Shell hire and fire at will without respecting the extant labour laws of this country,” Achese said.
Speaking further, the NUPENG president blamed the Federal Government for the persistent scarcity been experienced across the country stating that the scarcity will continue until government does the needful.
Specifically, he called on government to make payments available to verified marketers so that they can import more products into the country stressing that: “The current experience we are facing today in the area of fuel scarcity is the fear of the unknown by the markers. Therefore scarcity will persist until government does the right thing.”
He further called for the resignation of the Chairman of the Presidential Taskforce on Petroleum Subsidy, Aigbogie Aig-Imoukhuede on the ground that his bank was indicted in the subsidy scam.
“Aig-Imoukhuede should be asked to resign if the bank he manages is also involved in the petroleum subsidy scam. We need somebody who is completely neutral to do the job. There is no way we can have a clear judgment in his job so he should go,” he added.
On the issue of Capital Oil, he said “Whatever decision government would want to take concerning Capital Oil will be welcomed but job of workers there must be protected and their salaries must be paid as at when due otherwise the union will rise up and fight.”