The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has drawn the battle line between it and the management of ConocoPhillips over the oil firms planned divestment from the country.
The workers want all labour issues, especially payment of severance package and sales bonus, setttled before they will accede to the outright sale of the oil firm’s assets in the country.
ConocoPhillips, one of the major players in the upstream sector, is planning to divest from the country.
The workers added that the company should be ready to settle all liabilities to Nigerians working in the firm.
The workers said they were ready to use all legal means to ensure that ConocoPhillips respects the extant labour laws and other international conventions regarding severance of employees.
In a statement, its National Public Relations Officer, Comrade Seyi Gambo, said the workers would not hesitate to shut the oil sector if their requests were not addressed.
According to Gambo, the union is aware that ConocoPhillips would soon approach the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to seek approval for the sale of the oil blocks to some oil companies, adding that the process for outright sale of its operations in the country too is expected to be completed before the year runs out.
The union alleged that all expatriate workers of the oil major have been paid their entitlements and redeployed to other countries where the firm operates while neglecting its indigenous workers.
The union stated: “The Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC should not grant the approval unless the management of ConocoPhillips engages PENGASSAN on the severance of its members before concluding the sale so as not to plunge the buyers into industrial crisis.
“We are not saying that ConocoPhillips cannot sell their properties or investments in Nigeria, all we are saying is that the company should engage PENGASSAN so as to discuss the severance package and sales bonus of our members in that company.
The workers lamented that all the efforts they had made to ensure a peaceful resolution of the matter have been rebuffed.
“We have made several efforts to ensure that the management of ConocoPhillips come to table for discussion, but they arefused to engage the union. Even the company refused to honour the invitation of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Labour and Productivity. ConocoPhillips also bluntly refused to yield to the call of the 13-Man Committee set up by the Federal Government to look into various industrial issues affecting the oil and gas industry,” the workers alleged.
The union alleged that they have letters to the Presidency, Federal Ministers of Petroleum Resources and its Labour and Productivity counterpart, GMD of NNPC, Director, Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and other stakeholders on the intention of the firm to short change its members in the outright sale of its oil blocks in the country.
Information from The Nation was used in this report.