Exxonmobil Workers Ends Strike

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Yemisi Izuora

The senior workers of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (MPN), under the aegis of Petroleum and Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), have suspended their strike action.

The strike started last week to protest the planned sack of their members, pending a review of the company’s action by a ministerial committee.

The suspended action was prompted by the intervention of the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu,

In a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting between the Minister of State for Petroleum, the labour union and management of MPN, it was also resolved that all the workers affected by the special separation programme (SSP) embarked upon by the company should remain on the company’s payroll but cannot return to work, pending the conclusion of the review of the ministerial committee.

The committee has been mandated to submit its recommendations to the minister not later than January 10, 2017.

According to the communiqué, “The management action on the union members impacted by the involuntary separation programme is hereby suspended, pending the submission of the report by the ministerial committee and determination of the issues arising from the report of the Honourable Minister.

“It was further agreed that management is free to implement for non-represented employees and any voluntary cases already signed on to.”

The communiqué was signed by the National President of PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson; NNPC’s Chief Operating Officer, Corporate Services, Isa Inuwa; Udom Inoyo of MPN; and Falonipe Amos of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

PENGASSAN also clarified that the disengagement of staff should be voluntary, and not compulsory as implemented by the company.

The association also denied that some sacked senior workers received N350 million as severance package, saying that since the claim was made by the company, the son of a staff had been kidnapped and the kidnappers were demanding for their own share of the N350 million.

On the allegation that the union ignored the intervention by Kachikwu and went ahead with their protest, the association stated that when it was contemplating a ceasefire following the minister’s intervention, the company continued the issuance of sack letters.

In a statement by the branch chairman, Paul Eboigbe and secretary, Abel Nwobodo, the union acknowledged that it had supported the sack of 150 workers in December 2015, which was implemented as a voluntary programme agreed with the union in line with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“The union accepted it as a way forward in light of the challenges in the oil and gas industry,” the union added.

PENGASSAN, however, alleged that over 50 expatriates were brought into the country as replacement for those Nigerians that were separated in 2015, despite the huge cost to the joint venture arrangement with NNPC.

PENGASSAN argued that after the special separation programme of December 2015, most of the vacated jobs were given to expatriates and in some cases packaged as service contracts to foreign companies which had proven to be more expensive.

The union further disclosed that sometime this year, the company initiated an investigation into the activities of the marine and security departments, adding that in line with the CBA, the union participated in the process of disciplinary hearing on behalf of its members that were involved in the investigation.

PENGASSAN stated that none of its members were indicted by the disciplinary process, but the company in a premeditated move went ahead and sacked all the people involved and replaced them with expatriates.

“The union’s fear became worse when management insisted that the SSP (special separation programme) must be involuntary against the industry practice and our previous implementations.

“The union on the other hand insisted that though they are not comfortable with the programme at this time, but if it must be implemented then it must be voluntary,” PENGASSAN added.

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