By Victor Ahiuma-Young
LEADERSHIP of Lagos Zone of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), weekend, in Lagos, warned that it might be forced to order members in Addax Petroleum Nigeria Limited to shut down the companyâ€™s crude production any moment from now over alleged refusal of management to negotiate workersâ€™ severance benefits following the take over of the company by a Chinese company, Sinopec.
Chairman of the Lagos Zone of PENGASSAN, Comrade Folorunso Oginni, told Vanguard that the management had provoked the workers to the limit of their patience and vowed that should the management continue to play pranks with the future of workers, the leadership of PENGASSAN would have no order choice than to direct the workers to shut down all operations both down and upstream until the matter is resolved.
The workers of Addax Nigeria which is said to produce not less than 150,000 barrel of crude per day had last Thursday began indefinite industrial action to press home their demand for a severance benefits from the management and accused the management of insincerity and attempt to short change the workers after contributing immensely to the growth of the company.
Oginni who accused the management of insincerity, alleged that the leaders of PENGASSAN were in possession of a document where the management allegedly told Sinopec that there was neither a trade union in the company nor any labour issue to be addressed.
He said the management and the leaders of PENGASSAN met for five times on Thursday without a head way and vowed that until the workers dues are accorded to them, normalcy would not return to the company.
According to him, â€œwe have reached a point that I am afraid, any moment from now we might be force to order our members in the upstream to shut down and come out until this matter is resolved.â€
According to the company came into Nigeria with a mere 8. 25 share value, but that today, the companyâ€™s share is not less than 52.5 because of the dedication and commitment of Nigerian employees.
It could be recalled that early in June, the National Secretariat issued a July 3rd ultimatum to the management of Addax to get all labour issues resolved before consummating a sale deal with any prospective buyer.
The statement read in part: â€œInformation reaching our National Secretariat indicates that there is an on-going discussion in respect of the sale of Addax Petroleum, the detail of which is unknown to our members in the company. To our surprise Management has failed to carry the Association along on a matter like this, which has far-reaching consequences on the jobs of our members as well as the welfare of all employees in the company. We are also not unaware that there are major unresolved issues leading to growing tension and agitation among employees.
In view of the above, we are constrained to demand as follows: That our Association in particular and the representatives of our members be carried along in any discussion relating to the above subject. That the full interest of our members and indeed, all employees be given utmost consideration. That the major issues of Pension and Gratuity be discussed and finalized not later than July 3, 2009.â€
â€œ That the results of the Job Evaluation exercise be released not later than June 30, 2009, in accordance with Managementâ€™s earlier promise to the Association. That all labou/industrial relations issues must be resolved prior to the sale of the company. As an Association of workers in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria, we wish to state that Management should hold discussions and meetings on the above subject in an open and transparent manner in the interest of all stakeholders.
Finally, We wish to warn that no company should enter into any discussion /agreement with Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Ltd, in respect of the above issue until all labour issues are resolved between the company Management and the Unions . It is imperative to mention that Management should be mindful of the fact that we will not allow any member/employee to be short changed in the event that the company is sold.â€