01 February 2018, Sweetcrude, Port Harcourt — Justice Ibrahim Awal of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN, sitting in Port Harcourt has again adjourned the ruling on the case involving over 200 ex-employees of Bakers Hughes Company Nigeria Limited to March 2, 2018.
The ex- oil workers had dragged the CEO of Baker Hughes Incorporated, Mr. Martin Craighead, Baker Hughes Incorporated and Baker Hughes Company Nigeria Limited to court over what they described as unlawful disengagement by the company without a commensurate severance package.
Counsel to the ex-workers, Barr. George Ogara had filed an injunction asking the court to prevail on the American oil services firm to pay a total of N12 billion as redundancy benefits to the disengaged workers, and that the money should be paid into the court’s bank account.
Speaking to newsmen after the court session, a Spokesperson of the ex-oil workers, Mr. Enoch Harry, said they are worried that the ruling was again moved to March because, according to him, industrial disputes are supposed to be resolved as quickly as possible.
Harry also accused Baker Hughes Company Nigeria Limited of using its resources to frustrate the case and also luring some affected ex-workers with some job offer in order for them to drop the case.
According to him, “Industrial cases are supposed to last between three to six months, but this one is almost two years because we started on February 10, 2016.
“It is not out of place to say that Baker Hughes is frustrating this case because we have seen some people come to say they want to withdraw their case.
“The persons must have been persuaded with a job offer from Baker Hughes because that is what they do, they call several of us to offer a job so that we will drop the case.
“But I think the ruling was postponed until March 2nd, 2018 because we have two groups here, the people sacked in 2015 and those in 2016. So I think the judge wants to align both cases to be on the same page before giving a ruling because all the cases are the same and bordering on redundancy.”
The ex-employees of Baker Hughes, however, expressed optimism that the court will rule in their favour, saying the actions of Baker Hughes against them was against the Nigerian Labour Laws, as the process of redundancy in the law was not followed the company.
“That is why we are in court, we can say the redundancy given was invalid; after all, in our individual contracts, there is nothing like redundancy in our agreement.
“The Nigerian Labour Law says if there is going to be a redundancy, the company must discuss with the labour union or the Ministry of Labour, but since Baker Hughes did not allow us to have a union, they were supposed to have gone through the Ministry of Labour, which they did not.
“They just called us individually and served a redundancy letter without severance benefits, which is wrong. So with these, we believe that the court which is the last hope of the common man will give us justice.”