30 October 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – THE Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has petitioned the Presidency over the sack of 17 of its officials, including the caretaker committee chairman, by Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC.
The union wants the Presidency and the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to call the management of SPDC to order to avoid industrial unrest in the already restive petroleum industry.
It was gathered that the officials were sacked on October 22, in an exercise which SPDC management claimed was part of its divestment and outsourcing programme for some departments.
NUPENG and the management of SPDC have been at loggerheads for some times now following the union’s suspension and subsequent expulsion of its former SPDC branch chairman over alleged anti-union activities.
President of NUPENG, Comrade Igwe Achese, disclosed that the intervention of the presidency and the management of NNPC were critical to avoid unnecessary tension and industrial unrest which he said the nation could not afford the luxury of at this time.
He lamented that in spite of a committee set up the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, to address the lingering dispute between labour and the management of SPDC, the company had gone ahead to victimise the union’s officials.
He said: “We are calling on the presidency and the NNPC to call the management of SPDC to order and recall our members in the interest of industrial peace. We are aware of the tension in the country that is why we do not want to take immediate action.
“We hope that the appropriate authorities and agencies will address the issue as soon as possible.”
Earlier in its reaction to the sack, NUPENG demanded that its SPDC caretaker committee chairman, Comrade Enomate Kingsley, and 16 other Union members affected by the severance, be immediately reinstated in the interest of industrial peace and harmony.
NUPENG in a statement by its Deputy president and Acting General Secretary, Comrade John Eddy Ossai and Isaac Aberare, recalled that it dissolved the executive committee of Shell Branch of NUPENG for anti-union activities and set up a care-taker committee to run the affairs of the union in the interim.
According to the statement “the management of SPDC refused to recognise the care-taker committee and has since been planning to victimise the union officials. Since then, SPDC planned to outsource the fire department where majority of the workers are based notwithstanding the union’s vehement opposition to the plan.
“To actualise their plan, the SPDC management transferred the former Chairman, Comrade Fidelis Okandeji, expelled by the union for anti-union activities and his loyalists, out of the department leaving members of the caretaker committee vulnerable while hiding under the guise of divestment and management business decision to severe the union officials.
“The NUPENG leadership was taken aback when on October, 22, 2012, the SPDC management carried out their threat and distributed severance letters to the union officials, including the chairman of the caretaker committee, Comrade Enomate Kingsley.
NUPENG takes serious exception to it, as a case of victimization for Union activity and it is unacceptable and will be resisted by the union. It should also be stressed that contract workers in SPDC will also be affected in severance and yet the management has refused to enter negotiation on collective bargaining agreement with the union and that means contract workers who served ten years and above will go with nothing.”