11 October 2013, Lagos – The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has petitioned the Presidency, asking it not to grant approval for ConocoPhillips to sell its oil blocks to Oando without the resolution of pending labour issues.
The association alleged that all expatriates in the employ of ConocoPhillips in Nigeria had been settled and redeployed to the company’s operations in other countries, while the Nigeria nationals had been neglected.
Consequently, the oil workers association threatened to shut down the oil and gas industry should management of ConocoPhillips go ahead with the sale without resolving all labour issues.
In a petition to the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the union equally warned Oando Nigeria Plc, the prospective buyer of the oil blocks, not to sign any agreement on acquisition process until ConocoPhillips conclusively settled all labour issues.
The association warned the management of Oando to be prepared to settle all liabilities, including labour issues especially payment of severance package and sales bonus to Nigerians working in ConocoPhillips should it go ahead with the acquisition.
PENGASSAN in the petition by its Public Relations Officer, Seyi Gambo, stressed that the association was ready to use all mechanisms within the ambits of the law to ensure that ConocoPhillips respect the extant labour laws and other international conventions regarding severance of employees.
The petition read: “We are aware that ConocoPhillips will be completing the process of outright sales of its operations in Nigeria to Oando in the next one or two months and that the company will be approaching the Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Group Managing Director of the NNPC for approval for the sales of the oil blocks to Oando next week.
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 severance of its members before concluding the sales so as not to plunge the buyer, Oando Nigeria Plc, into industrial crisis.
“We are not saying that ConocoPhillips cannot sell its 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. We have made several efforts to ensure that the management of ConocoPhillips come to the table for discussion but they have refused 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 petition added that PENGASSAN had already intimated the Presidency, the Minister of Petroleum Resources and his Labour and Productivity counterpart, Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and other stakeholders on the evil intention of management of ConocoPhillips to shortchange its Nigerian workers in the outright sale of its oil blocks in Nigeria, and that labour would react appropriately.
– Linda Eroke, This Day