Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Oil workers, under the auspices of National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Pan Ocean Oil Limited recently acquired by Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), have threatened to shut down the operations of the company by midnight today.
They said their action was to protest the nonpayment of their severance benefits by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), a subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), having taken over the running of the company.
Other reasons adduced by the workers included employees’ roll over as well as legacy payment of PAYE tax and contributory pensions of over 33 months after deducting same from their salaries over the years by Pan Ocean Oil Limited.
According to a statement jointly signed by PENGASSAN Chairman, Rex Aibangbee, and his NUPENG counterpart, Aboy Udi, and made available to journalists at the weekend during a peaceful protest, they maintained that nothing would stop the members from shutting down the facilities of the acquired company by NNPC.
The labour unions noted that their members would commence the total shutdown of operations in Pan Ocean Oil in Benin-city, Edo State, and Ogharaefe in Delta State to protest the nonpayment of their severance benefits and other entitlements.
“We are shutting down the Benin-city operations base office of the company situated at KM 10 Sapele Road in Benin-city, and the Ovade-Ogharefe Gas Plant/Flow station OML-98 facilities by midnight Monday if our demands are not met,” they said in the statement.
The twin oil unions lamented the plights of their employees since the takeover of the company by NNPC, following the revocation and handover of the OML-98 acreage to NPDC, its subsidiary.
The unions also accused the management of Pan Ocean and the NNPC of insincerity and impunity in handling the affairs of the employees of OML-98 since the gradual take over by NPDC without following due process.
“Having exhausted every avenue of dialogue which included but not limited to several written letters and reminders to NAPIMS, NNPC, DPR, Ministry of Labour, PAN Ocean management, the unions are left with no other option than to shut down the OML-98 Gas Plant Facility and Flow Station effectively December 7, 2020, which would impact on crude oil production in thousands of bbls, activities of NPDC, OML 147 and the supply of over 55mscf of gas to Egbin power station for national grid.
“A government that is proactive in this present world economic crisis will not fold its hands and allow such oppression against workers that have laboured over 30 years to build these facilities,” they maintained.
The President of NUPENG, Akporeha, and his counterpart, Osifo of PENGASSAN, , threw their weights behind the protesting workers, and urged the federal government to urgently intervene, noting that the development runs contrary to Nigerian labour laws.
The Vice Chairman of Warri Zonal Council, Prince Audu Oshiokhamele (snr), who represented the National president of PENGASSAN, said the union is behind the agitations by their members at the Pan Ocean Oil Limited.