22 February 2017, Lagos – Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corporation, yesterday denied reports that it embarked on fresh retrenchment exercise where 89 workers were sacked.
There were reports that the latest retrenchment that allegedly affected 60 regular workers and 29 contract staff, were carried out at the company’s Qua Iboe Terminal in Akwa Ibom State.
But the Manager, Media and Communications at ExxonMobil, Mr. Ogechukwu Udeagha, told THISDAY last night that no such fresh retrenchment was carried out by the company.
“I can confirm that there is no truth whatsoever to that claim,” Udeagha said.
A top official of the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also denied any fresh sack of 89 workers.
“To the best of my knowledge, the company has not embarked on a fresh exercise after the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Kachikwu, intervened in the December 2016 retrenchment exercise. The minister is still in the process of resolving that one. So, there is no way the company can initiate a new exercise,” he said.
The official further stated that the report of the sack of 89 workers was the one in December 2016, which was widely reported.
“If you read the new report, they said that the company had paid the 89 workers all their entitlements running into millions of naira. That statement is a confirmation that what they are referring to was last year’s exercise. If the company had embarked on fresh exercise, there is no way the process of working out their entitlements would have been concluded. Payments of entitlements take a longer period. So, they just rehearsed an old story,” the official added.
When contacted by THISDAY to confirm or deny the new development, the National President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Comrade Francis Johnson did not respond to calls on his mobile phone.
Before the intervention of Kachikwu, the aggrieved workers of the company had in December 2016 shut down the company’s corporate head office in Lagos in protest over the attempt by the company to sack over 150 workers.
The protesting workers had accused the company of flagrant violation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act by deploying expatriates to take over jobs for which there is local capacity.
The workers had also insisted that the outgoing Managing Director of the company, Mr. Nolan O’Neal, must be relieved of his duties.
The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and PENGASSAN had on October 26, 2016 threatened to go on strike over alleged plans by the international oil companies (IOCs) to sack 3,000 of their members.
The unions had also issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government calling for a halt to the sacking of their members by the IOCs.