Michael James 05 June 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos – The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has issued a 72-hour ultimatum to the management of Neconde Energy Limited to recall sacked workers.
The ultimatum is coming barely two weeks after the suspension of an industrial action embarked upon by PENGASSAN over anti-labour practices and recalcitrance of the Neconde Energy Limited.
The management of the company sacked workers who participated in the industrial action.
Decrying the development, PENGASSAN said it has ” issued a 72-hour ultimatum starting from Monday to Neconde management within which the five affected members should be recalled to work or face monumental consequences”.
According to PENGASSAN, Neconde Energy’s action was in flagrantly violation of the terms and tenets of an agreement signed on May 18, 2017, between the two parties towards the suspension of the picketing of the company.
In the communiqué which was signed by PENGASSAN representatives led by Chairman, PENGASSAN Lagos Zone, Comrade Abel Agarin, and representatives of Neconde Energy led by its Company/Board Secretary, Mr. Val Uche-Obi, who signed on behalf of the Chairman of his company, Dr. Ernest Azudialu, and the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Frank Edozie, among others, it was agreed that nobody would be victimised on the ground of the industrial action.
The senior staff trade union said that the company terminated the employment of five members on June 1, 2017 based on the industrial actions.
According to a statement by Comrade Agarin, the management of Neconde Energy Limited has resolved to continually harass and victimise senior staff members, particularly those who participated actively in the recent industrial action.
“It is our position that the termination exercise is unlawful, not in line with equity, good conscience, industrial relations best practices and extant labour laws. We are aware of the efforts by Neconde management to balkanise the union and we are categorically saying that this will be vehemently resisted,” Agarin stated.
It would be recalled that the recent industrial action commenced on May 15, 2017 with the picketing of the premises of Neconde simultaneously in Lagos and Warri.
The grievances that led to the industrial action include forceful restructuring (evidenced in realignment, grade categorisation and harmonisation of salary structure and downgrade of conditions of service/contractual terms of employment) of Neconde to other non-E&P subsidiaries of the Obijackson Group, lack of evidence (TCC) of employee tax (PAYE) remittance in Lagos and Delta State since 2012 and non- payment of 2016 13th Month pay.
Other grievances are the non-payment of field allowances since August 2016, forceful and immediate transfer of union members (including pregnant women) from Lagos to Warri office with no consideration of impact on families, non-payment of transfer allowances (two months after the forceful transfer), and non-payment of severance benefit.
The management of Neconde commenced negotiation with PENGASSAN while the picketing was ongoing. The meeting was deadlocked for days whilst member staff proceeded on indefinite strike until a final agreement was reached as contained in the 15-18th May 2017 communique.
The association suspended the strike on the basis of the agreement reached in utmost good faith. It said it is taken aback by the ugly development from the same management of Neconde exactly 8 working days after the agreement was reached and the industrial action suspended.
Neconde Energy Limited (NEL) was incorporated in November 26, 2010 as an independent oil & gas company for the acquisition and development of petroleum assets. Neconde in partnership with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, through its subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, NPDC, jointly operates OML 42, a prolific asset within the western Niger Delta under the Asset Management Team, AMT, model.
The company’s core operations focus on the exploration and development of oil and gas assets for the purpose of production and sale of crude oil and gas stock to generate revenue.
Neconde was initially owned by 3 (one foreign and two Nigerian) pioneer shareholders with Dr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi owning 40% of the company. Following the acquisition of an additional 40% shareholding from an existing shareholder, Dr. Azudialu-Obiejesi became the controlling shareholder with 80% ownership of the company.
Following this acquisition, he purportedly integrated NEL into the Obijackson Group and NEL Senior/ Executive management has since embarked on unilateral and massive restructuring of Neconde across the entity called Obijackson Group.