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Labour accuses oil firm of unfair practices

By Victor Ahiuma-Young

ORGANISED labour in the nation’s Petroleum industry, has accused the management of ConocoPhilips Nigeria Limited of deliberating breaching the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the union in order to shortchang members in the company’s planned retrenchment exercise.

The umbrella body for the senior staff association in the country, said some of the breaches included assignment of jobs, duties, roles and responsibilities of members to expatriate employees outside Nigeria and some to none members and contractors within Nigeria,   bringing in people into Nigeria with Business Visas to do the work of  members and using expatriates resident abroad to issue letters of invitation to foreigners seeking Nigeria Visas. All attempt to reach ConocoPhilips for comments proved abortive.

In a letter to the firm’s Manager, Human Resources and Administration, General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Comrade Bayo Olowoshile, said: “As a corporate organisation, ConocoPhillips has adopted best practices in job assignments and announcements, the sudden reversal  to cause conflict within nationals is clearly an under hand tactic and is unbecoming of an IOC, coupled with the fact that some of these are breaches and infractions against the laws of this country and they are unacceptable to our Association and we strongly advise the Management not to do anything contrary that will breach the industrial peace until we finalise our discussions on this issue as stated in our meetings.

Conclusively, and in regards to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Association notes that the Company’s declaration of redundancy does not meet the 3 criteria agreed (by Company and Association) in the definition for redundancy in the CBA. Mergers or acquisition of the company, excess manpower, reduction in the Company’s activities. Though the declaration of Redundancy is at the discretion of the Company, it however has to fit the definition ascribed to it in paragraph 1 of Clause 23 of the CBA. None of the following has occurred as the Company’s reason is only cost related and a bid to spite the ASSOCIATION because of its recent CBA with the Company. Company’s activities have not reduced, and are on the increase with the unitisation of OML 131.”

“The Company has refused to give to the Association the requested information about those affected and organisational charts, contrary to the provisions of the CBA which stipulates that Company shall keep the Association fully informed and will discuss the situation in detail. The CBA clearly states that, ‘though the redundancy is at the Company’s discretion, but it is SUBJECT to transparent and objective review by stakeholders. The Company has not therefore made a full and transparent disclosure to the Association as a Stakeholder. A disclosure of these details will enable the Association ascertain whether Management followed the laid down selection principles stipulated in the CBA. What is not at the discretion of the Company is the selection process for employees that will be involved.

This is clearly stated and that the following principles shall apply: First in last out,  Relative merit Skill and  Ability Reliability. This is so to prevent the Company from arbitrarily choosing employees to be affected at its whims and caprices in order to prevent issues of discrimination and victimisation. Therefore, the Company must show its clear intent of following due process and fairness by making a full disclosure of the employees to be affected to subject them to the  test above. In view of the above, the Association suspects that the Company has some ulterior motives for declaring the redundancy because its declaration was not in conformity with the provisions of the CBA between the Company and the Association.”


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