Neconde Energy Sues PENGASSAN after Termination of Workers’ Appointment

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By Solomon Elusoji

The stage is set for a showdown between the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and Neconde Energy Limited (NEL) over the termination of NEL workers’ appointment, following their participation in an industrial action organised by the former .

On May 15, PENGASSAN had led a picketing of NEL premises in Lagos and Warri, over alleged grievances, which included forceful restructuring (evidenced in Realignment, grade categorisation and harmonisation of salary structure, and downgrading of conditions of service/contractual terms of employment) of Neconde to other non -exploration and production subsidiaries of the Obijackson Group; lack of evidence (TCC) of employee tax (PAYE)  remittance in Lagos and Delta State since 2012; non- payment of 2016’s 13th month pay; non-payment of field allowances since August 2016; forceful and immediate transfer of union members from Lagos to Warri office with no consideration of impact on families; non-payment of transfer allowances (two months after the forceful transfer); and non-payment of severance benefit.

However, on May 18, after the picketing, officials of PENGASSAN and NEL met and apparently reached a friendly agreement.

In the communiqué which was signed by the representatives of the Company led by its Company/Board Secretary, Mr. Val Uche- Obi SAN, who signed on behalf of the Chairman, Neconde Energy Limited, Dr. Ernest Azudialu, and the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Frank Edozie, among others and PENGASSAN representatives led by Chairman, PENGASSAN Lagos Zone, Com. Abel Agarin, among others, it was agreed that nobody will be victimised on the ground of the industrial action.

But, by June 1, NEL allegedly terminated the employment of five members of staff because of the industrial actions.

The development has prompted PENGASSAN to issue a 72-hour ultimatum, starting from Monday to NEL management to reverse the termination or “face monumental consequences.”

According to a statement by Comrade Agarin, the NEL management has resolved to continually harass and victimise senior staff members, particularly those who participated actively in the recent industrial action.

“It is our position that the termination exercise is unlawful, not in line with equity, good conscience, industrial relations best practices and extant labour laws. We are aware of the efforts by Neconde Management to balkanise the union and we are categorically saying that this will be vehemently resisted,” Agarin said.

When THISDAY visited PENGASSAN office on Friday, a source confirmed that the association had been dragged to court over the issue. “We cannot comment on the issue presently,” a PENGASSAN official said. Also, calls made to NEL management were not returned, as at press time.