……Oil workers demand consultations on 850 workers affected through contracts terminations
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has terminated multi-million dollars contracts on three ailing refineries, including the ones for support services at the Kaduna refinery, which made zero revenue but spent N64 billion in 2018.
This effort, Platforms Africa gathered exclusively, was a part of reorganisation of the operations and repositioning of the refineries books that have hitherto come under several attacks by transparency groups.
Oil workers’ unions in the country on Monday declared that the NNPC had fired 850 support staff at the three refineries, an allegation the corporation swiftly denied.
Rising under the auspices of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), the workers declared that this corporation had sacked the contract workers at the nation’s refineries without consultants with the union and with zero terminal benefits.
They expressed dissatisfaction with the minister of state for petroleum resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, over the alĺeged sack, noting that the action of Corporation in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic has thrown “almost a thousand workers into hard financial situation without an iota of empathy or consultation with the union.”
Group General Manager (GGM), Group Public Affairs Division (GPAD), NNPC, Dr. Kennie Obateru, however, refuted the labour allegation stressing that NNPC did not sack any workers.
He said in a telephone chat that there was only a termination of contracts between NNPC and some contractors in May.
“I’m sure they were referring to the termination of contracts between NNPC and some of its contractors at the refineries over two months ago. Because the contractors have no more contracts with NNPC, it affected their workers. So they were not NNPC workers and we did not sack our workers,” he said.
The two unions known as NUPENGASSAN, however insisted that 850 support staff at the refineries were sacked.
“We demand to be engaged for a proper discussion on the commensurate terminal benefits of the workers who had worked for 10 to 15 years,” a joint statement signed by the National President, NUPENG, Williams Akporeha, and his counterpart in PENGASSAN, Mr Ndukaku Ohaeri, read.
The statement entitled; “NUPENG and PENGASSAN strongly react to comments by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, on refineries and oil and gas workers,” also has signatures of the general secretaries of the two unions.
“On the purported threat of the Group Managing Director of NNPC to sack workers, we wish to state here that it was actually no more a threat but that it had already been carried out with the sack of 850 support staff in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, throwing almost a thousand workers into hard financial situation without an iota of empathy or consultation with the union,” it said.
The unions said they never threatened to go on strike, but that they only demanded to be engaged for a proper discussion on the commensurate terminal benefits of the workers who had worked for 10 to 15 years.
They said, “We found it rather highly inhuman and unfair on the part of NNPC management to sack these workers with only their last paycheques after 15 good years of their lives in NNPC.
“If a Minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Group Managing Director of NNPC can dismiss contract workers that have served for more than 10 years continuously as if they are rodents, what more can we expect from lOCs. The monthly salaries of 25 of these contract staff put together cannot equal a typical management staff salary of the same organisation.”