Thousands gather in Lagos during the general strike over the removal of fuel subsidies. The Nigerian Labor Congress and the Trade Union Congress have called off the strike after the government announced a partial restoration., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
NUPENG pickets Shell offices over anti-labour laws
Monday, 26 November 2012 00:00 By Yetunde Ebosele, Sulaimon Salau (Lagos) and Chido Okafor (Warri) News - National
Firm denies union’s claims
CITING the violation of labour law, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Monday began the picketing of Shell Petroleum Developing Company (SPDC) affiliates nationwide.
The union alleged that the issue of casual, contract staff or service contracts staff without conditions of service has been in the front burner with Shell in recent times without any headway.
The union’s grievance is also connected with the sack of about 17 staff members under the guise of divestment programme.
But Shell denied accusations of anti-union policies and targeting NUPENG members in its employment.
For several hours yesterday, the union paralyzed activities at SPDC Warri office as the place was picketed.
However, an official of Shell said oil production was going and not affected by the disruption in its offices in Warri by protesting NUPENG members.
The protest by NUPENG also caused traffic gridlock along Ogunu road as the protesters took over the road, blocking it with tankers.
Heavy presence of security men, some with Alsatian dogs were seen at the Shell gate at Ogunu.
Acting General Secretary, NUPENG, Isaac Aberare said: “The issue has become a social phenomenon and hydra-headed evil in labour relations with Shell, which has refused to heed our call to review the conditions of service of these workers to no avail despite series of meetings held.”
The union scribe added that Shell has been the major purveyor of enslaving able-bodied Nigerians through exploitative contract and agency labour employment system/outsourcing.
According to him, the union condemns what it described as inhuman, exploitative and anti-labour tendencies of Shell and its labour contractors, most especially as it relates to its oil exploration and production in Nigeria. NUPENG stated that the contract workers had no conditions of service and when they are terminated as a result of contract renewal process, they are not paid severance benefits other than one month’s salary, irrespective of the number of years in service.
The Corporate Media Relations Manager, Shell Nigeria, Tony Okonedo, told The Guardian that the company has no disagreement with NUPENG members in its employment.
He said, “Allegations of interference and intimidation of union officials made in some media reports against SPDC by some members of the union outside its employment, are false and baseless. The fact is that SPDC is currently divesting from a number of its assets in Western Niger Delta as agreed by joint venture partners and approved by the Federal Government. This is part of a portfolio realignment exercise that will also help to grow indigenous capacity in the oil and gas industry.”
Okonedo said staff and unions have however been briefed on the exercise, including the implications for the structure of the business in Western operations, while affected staff are being compensated in line with company policies.
“We are also aware that there is a dispute between national NUPENG and the Shell branch of the union, which is the subject of a court case. The current court order is for all parties to maintain the status quo and SPDC is complying with that order,” he said.
Author of this article: By Yetunde Ebosele, Sulaimon Salau (Lagos) and Chido Okafor (Warri)