By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Lagos— Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and their Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, counterparts, Sunday, ordered members in Chevron Nigeria Limited to shut down the company’s operations over sack of 2,000 Nigerian employees and other perceived unfair labour practices by the company.
This came as Chevron’s General Manager Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Esimaje Brikinn, earlier in a statement, said: “Making changes to the organisation is never easy for anyone that will be impacted, but it is to improve our ability to remain competitive in Nigeria.
“Reducing the cost and improving the efficiency of our operations are critical to generating more revenues for the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
In a joint statement by President of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, Prince Williams Akporeha and Festus Osifo, the unions said: “We have directed our members in Chevron to withdraw their services.
“We also call on the Federal Government to call Chevron Management to order, otherwise we can no longer guarantee industrial peace in the oil and gas sector.
“Here is our fatherland and we have a labour law that regulates the activities of organisations in Nigeria; this law cannot be breached; we must follow the process.”
They alleged that Chevron management had, on Independence Day, informed about 2,000 of its employees that their services were no longer required.
NUPENG and PENGASSAN leaders alleged that the Chevron management had asked those employees who were still interested in working with them to apply afresh.
They said: “This development runs contrary to Nigeria’s laws regulating the oil and gas industry as it does not protect our national interest.
“This is an imperialist agenda that must not be allowed to stay; most especially as we have just finished celebrating our 60th independence as a sovereign country.”
In the meantime, TUC in a statement by its President and Secretary-General, Quadri Olaleye, and Musa-Lawal Ozigi, among others, said: “This development runs contrary to Nigeria’s laws regulating the oil and gas industry, and other industries in the country as it does not protect our national interest.
“This is an imperialist agenda that must not be allowed to stay; most especially as we have just finished celebrating our 60th independence as a sovereign country.
“Agreed, the COVID-19 pandemic did hit the world hard, but should that make organisations lose their humanity?
“It is obvious that the management wants to casualise Nigerians. Is this a way to compensate workers who have risked their lives, even during the lockdown to sustain production?
“It is imperative at this point to remind the Federal Government that job creation is one of its mantras. In fact, the government made the creation of one million jobs per year a must if voted into power.
“Furthermore, approval was also given for the employment of one thousand employees in the NNPC by the government, which to us is an effort geared towards fulfilling its promise on job creation. Why should this come up now?
“Mr. President, we are Nigerians and it is expedient that we defend our interest. We should consider this move by Chevron management as an insult on our collective existence as a country.
“With our 60% stake in Chevron, we should have a say. Congress will not turn its back on the oil workers.
“We must know that sacking 2,000 employees who are married men and women is the same as sacking 10,000 people. The additional eight thousand are their dependents (wives, husband, children, parents, in-laws and unemployed friends).
“The organised labour has made a lot of sacrifices and compromises to maintain a peaceful industrial atmosphere since this administration commenced.
“Unfortunately, it appears our tolerance and show of understanding is being taken for granted. We are against this imperialist agenda. We are going to check this manipulation.
“Nigeria is our fatherland and we have a Labour Law that regulates the activities of organisations. This law cannot be breached. They must follow the due process.”