The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has urged the Federal Government not to allow a systemic sacking of Nigerian workers by Chevron Nigeria Limited to avoid worsening the unemployment situation of the country.
The intervention followed a statement by Chevron Nigeria Limited, CNL, that 25 per cent of its workforce would be sacked.
This it said was in line with ongoing review of its manpower requirements in the light of the changing business environment, while continuing to evaluate opportunities to improve capital efficiency and reduce operating costs.
In that process, the company will be streamlining its workforce and improving service delivery and overall performance at all levels.
CNL’s General Manager Policy, Government and Public Affairs, Esimaje Brikinn, who confirmed the development in a statement explained that the aim was to have a business that is competitive and have an appropriately sized organization with improved processes.
This will increase efficiency and effectiveness, retain value, reduce cost, and generate more revenue for the Federal Government of Nigeria, he said.
According to him, the new organizational structures will, unfortunately, require approximately 25 per cent reduction in the work force across the various levels of our organization.
“It is important to note that all our employees will retain their employment until the reorganization process is completed,” he noted.
CNL supports the Federal Government in its objectives and efforts to build a prosperous Nigeria.
In the area of employment generation, the company has several social investments which are helping to provide employment for thousands of Nigerians.
Brikinn clarified that there are no plans to migrate Nigerian jobs outside the country.
He explained that ”we have prospects for our company in Nigeria; however, we must make the necessary adjustments in light of the prevailing business climate; and we need everyone’s support to get through these tough times stronger, more efficient and more profitable, in order to sustain the business’.
He stated further that CNL is in alignment with both its Joint Venture partners, the NNPC, and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on this process; and “we are actively engaging our workforce to ensure they understand why this is being done.
We will continue to consistently engage all relevant stakeholders, including the leadership of the employee unions as we continue this process of business optimization.”
“At CNL, the welfare and safety of our workforce is one of our highest priorities. Making changes to the organization is never easy for anyone that will be impacted, but it is necessary to improve our ability to remain competitive in Nigeria.
Reducing the cost and improving the efficiency of our operations is critical to generating more revenues for the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the PENGASSAN, in a statement signed by the Chevron Branch Chairman, Comrade Ete Oyegbanren and Secretary, Comrade Lavin Aghaunor, said over 2000 of its members working with Chevron have been locked out by the company under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions and were asked to reapply while 600 of them penciled down for sacking at end of the fresh recruitment based on a pseudo reorganization of the company.
PENGASSAN noted that Chevron leveraged on the Work From Home (WFM) experiment occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown to carry out the unjust downsizing of staff with Nigerian workers as the main target while their American counterparts who also worked from home in the US were left out of the sacking.
The association said it was unfortunate that 600 Nigerian workers being listed for sacking were lower cadre staff who earn far less than their American counterparts in spite of the pleading by President Muhammadu Buhari to credible organizations not to sack workers under the guise of COVID-19.
‘’All the 2000 workers were ‘’constructively dismissed’’ and then asked to reapply for fresh jobs while 600 of them are already penciled down to be sacked at the end of the fresh recruitment based on a pseudo reorganization of the company.
‘’Chevron management experimented with Work From Home since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020 and discovered that since Nigerians can work from their homes during the lockdown period using the internet, the same work being done by Nigerians here can be done remotely by Americans from the US hence the move to sack 600 Nigerians and replace them with Americans who would be working remotely from the US. This is a case of worsening the unemployment situation in Nigeria and using the same to address those of America.
‘’The 600 workers that are being sacked are primarily lower cadre employees whose salaries are negligible when compared with the humongous emoluments paid to their American expatriate counterparts. Recall that the Federal Government pays 60 percent of the massive salaries and allowances of these expatriates and Chevron management plans to engage more expatriates in America who will replace the 600 Nigerians currently being sacked in the current scheme. To worsen matters, none of the top management of the company including the chairman and managing director who earn the chuck of what constitutes high apex is affected by the sack, instead, it is the same top management that chooses to sack 600 lower workers whose crime is working hard to sustain Nigeria’s oil and gas production even in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic,’’ said the association.
With this unjust sacking, said PENGASSAN, the company has defiled the directives of the government to companies not to sack workers while the company management boasted that the Federal Government could not dictate to them how to run their organization.
‘’The President Buhari led Federal Government has made the creation of 1 million jobs per year a cornerstone of his administration. The government even went further by approving the recruitment of over 1000 employees to the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). We are also aware that the Federal Government advised companies not to sack Nigerian workers under the guise of COVID-19. We have credible information that Chevron management is boasting that the President of Nigeria cannot dictate to them how to run the company, despite the fact that the NNPC owns 60 per cent of the joint venture,’’ said PENGASSN.
The Chevron PENGASSAN Branch executives noted that the national body of the association had appealed to Chevron to suspend the sacking process and allow both parties to reach an agreement such that workers could opt to exit but the effort was rebuffed rather ‘’all the 2000 workers received notification that their services were no longer required by Chevron and those interested can apply afresh for new jobs wherein 600 of them would be subsequently declared redundant and their appointment terminated.
‘’We, therefore, called on the federal government of Nigeria to call the management of Chevron to order and direct them to comply with Nigerian laws and regulations in the oil and gas industry. We particularly appeal to the Group Managing Director of NNPC and Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources to ensure that Nigeria’s national interest is protected.’’
The association informed that the plan of Chevron is part of a grand scheme by multinational oil companies to gradually relocate work from Nigeria to their home countries.