By Yemisi Izuora/ Ijeoma Agudosi-Lagos
Total Exploration and Production (E&P) Nigeria Limited (Total E&P) whose action on termination of appointment of one of its workers was a major factor to the oil workers strike has called for understanding with the unions.
Total said in a statement obtained by Oriental News Nigeria that its attention was drawn to statements on December 14, 2014 by the National leadership of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) that the three day warning strike is in part designed to press “for the reinstatement of the National Zonal Secretary of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Mrs. Elo who was sacked by Total E&P Nigeria Ltd”.
Reacting to the statement the company said that following a routine corporate reorganization, 71 employees from Port Harcourt and Abuja including Mrs. EV-O, were given letters of transfer to Lagos in August, 2014.
According to Total, Mrs. EV-O received a transfer and inconvenience allowance of more than Nine Million Naira and then refused to transfer to her new location.
Instead of approaching the Company in which she was an employee, to re-consider her transfer, Mrs. EV-O complained to a number of external parties and agencies and invited them to intervene in a routine internal employer – employee matter. She sought to force a reversal of the transfer, citing her role as a Port Harcourt Zonal official of the union.
The company also claimed that at the same time, Mrs. EV-O absented herself from work without permission for over thirty days.
“Total had the option to summarily dismiss Mrs. EV-O for refusing to proceed on transfer and/or for absenting herself for more than seven days without permission, both a clear breach of the terms of her employment contract which she signed.
Total E&P was magnanimous in waiting for thirty days before terminating her with full benefits even though she has not yet refunded the transfer allowance of over Nine Million Naira.
A Labour Dispute process was launched at the Federal Ministry of Labour by PENGASSAN who then declined to pursue this option. Total E&P supports this process which should be allowed to proceed to allow knowledgeable third parties to review the facts and make an informed decision with the participation of all parties.
PENGASSAN and NUPENG have been strong representatives of our employees for more than 35 years and we fully respect the rights of our employees to participate in union activities. We will continue to work with both unions in the interest of staff and the development of the oil and gas sector” Total said in a statement.