May 13, 2020

NUPENG takes up arms against SPDC, Total contractor over ‘unfair practices’

NUPENG takes up arms against SPDC, Total contractor over ‘unfair practices’

By Victor Young

Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has petitioned Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, and Total E &P Nigeria Limited, over alleged unfair practices.

They mentioned unlawful termination of employment of members and refusal to pay their entitlements by of one of their contractors, Valiant/Vicadis, as part of their grouses.

In a different petition to the management of the two international oil companies, dated May 12, NUPENG pleaded with SPDC and Total E &P Nigeria Limited to intervene and ensure the payment of affected workers’ full benefits to avoid industrial unrest.

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NUPENG’s General Secretary, Afolabi Olawale, in the petition to Managing Director/ Country Chairman, SPDC, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, read in part: “We are deeply constrained to bring to your urgent attention and intervention the unlawful termination of the employment of our members on October 28, 2019 in very dubious manner and in violation of provisions of the extant labour law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the failure of the management of Valiant Energy Services, West Africa, to pay the terminal benefits of the affected workers.

It was brought to our official attention in the third quarter of 2019 that in line with the laws regulating the operations of drilling rigs in Nigeria, the rig drilling for Borr Frigg was due to temporary importation on permit and will be moving out of the country from October 25, 2019 till December 2019.

However, based on the antecedents of the managements of these companies of lacking in integrity and having dubious ways and manner of avoiding and evading statutory responsibilities and obligations to statutory institutions and workers, the workers requested that their employment contract should be severed and their entitlements paid off.

In his usual deceptive manner, the Executive Vice Chairman of the company approached the Union for understanding and gave assurance in a letter dated October 18, 2019 that the company still has two years contract with SPDC commencing from December 2019 hence the workers’ employment subsist and continue.

The union fell into his deceptive trap and responded with our resolution which was acknowledged by the company.

With this understanding, the Union allowed the process of the temporary importation permit to run it full course without hindrance.

Unfortunately and very disheartening, immediately the rig was moved out of the shores of the country, the management reneged on the initial agreement of retaining the workers in their employment and proceeded to unilaterally sacked all the workers without paying them terminal benefits.

The affected workers under the employment of Variant Energy services West Africa started work with Total E&P in January 2018 to June 2019.

They were further moved to Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC locations in July, 2019 where they further rendered invaluable jobs of drilling five wells before they were sacked in October 2019.

The action of management to say the least is very provocative and an affront to global best practices, decency and integrity in the Nigeria oil and Gas industry.

It is rather unfortunate, that the criminal acts of the management of Valiant Energy Services West Africa has dragged the names of these two Multinational Oil companies into this sort of scandal and put big dent on the decency and global brand of Total E&P and the SHELL Petroleum Development company.

As a responsible union with high regard for industrial relations procedures, we have decided to seek for your intervention by requesting that you hold the management of variant accountable and responsible for this fragrant violation of workers’ rights, corruption and human right abuses and ensure immediate payment of all the entitlements of the affected workers.

Since these two multinational oil companies were/are the principals during the course of the workers services in the matter, they are earnestly implored to ensure that this matter is urgently resolved and the entitlements (including October 2019 salary) of the affected workers paid without further delay to prevent further escalation of the matter.”