*Settles sacked workers’ benefits in full
Lagos — The lingering crises between the indigenous offshore drilling company, Valiant Energy Services West Africa Limited and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG that appeared to be protracted has finally been settled following mediation by the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.
This was disclosed in a communique made available by the Commercial Manager of Valiant, Mr. Yele Fafowora.
The row was sparked by the laying off of 39 oil workers last year by Valiant following the global downturn in the oil industry as series of lockdowns by countries were implemented to stem the Coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, after series of deliberations with NUPENG, an agreement was reached on October 16, 2020 between Valiant and NUPENG over the terminal benefits that will be payable to the workers.
To this end, although Valiant said it had earlier met all obligations of the agreement and paid in full all outstanding severance benefits due to the NUPENG members, however, NUPENG at the time, still expressed dissatisfaction with Valiant on matters outside the provisions of the agreement, which had been fully met by Valiant. Rather than acknowledge the resolution of all matters with the payment of all outstanding monies, the impasse between both companies lingered.
With the continued impasse, a virtual reconciliation meeting brokered by the Department of Petroleum Resources was held on January 19, 2021. At the meeting, all the grievances were heard by all parties and were amicably resolved. NUPENG further acknowledged receipt, in full, of all outstanding severance benefits from Valiant due to its members, the disengaged workers.
The management of Valiant and NUPENG both agreed that the whole matter was regrettable, and there was a collective resolve to work together in peace and harmony.
Comrade Williams Akporeha, representing NUPENG, agreed that social dialogue remains the best path to dispute resolution and looked forward to a smooth working relationship between the labour advocacy group and Valiant in the future.
On its part, Valiant restated a continued, unflinching commitment to the welfare of its workforce – “a practice that is deeply enshrined in the corporate culture of the firm,” according to Fafowora.
He added, “Valiant has the reputation of a responsible corporate entity that has held the welfare of its staff in high regard, always performing its statutory staff obligations in a timely manner. Again, he alluded to various forms of support Valiant had offered the previous administration of NUPENG, describing the just-ended face-off as regrettable but optimistic of a cordial relationship with NUPENG going forward.
“The relationship had always been cordial until this recent challenge. These disengaged members of staff are some of the best hands across the industry but the incident happened in response to the pandemic. We can’t fault anybody for that.
“Our work environment and culture at Valiant have always been great, and I’m sure, if given the opportunity again, every laid off staff would love to re-join the company, Fafowora quipped.
Along with Akporeha and Fafowora, the witness to the reconciliatory meeting, Mrs Joyce Odafe-Atebe, representing DPR, also joined in signing the communique.