Oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has threatened to shut down the operations of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, an affiliate of ExxonMobil until the sacked workers are recalled.
The workers yesterday picketed the company’s offices in Lagos and Port Harcourt and insisted that the actions would continue until the federal government prevails on the company to address their grievances.
Addressing the workers, who sealed the company’s corporate head office in Lagos to protest the sack of their colleagues, the National President of PENGASSAN, Francis Olabode Johnson, said the union had written several letters to the company to resolve the issues to no avail.
He threatened that the workers would shut down the company’s operations between Tuesday (yesterday) and Friday, stressing that the action would have negative impact on the economy.
“PENGASSAN will start withdrawing its members from all upstream locations starting from tonight to press home their demands. This will impact on oil production and further drive down Nigerian production and revenue. The picketing is going on simultaneously in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Eket and Onne,” he said.
“We expect the federal government to intervene so that it will not escalate to other International Oil Companies (IOCs),” he added.
The Lagos Zonal Chairman of PENGASAN, Comrade Abel Agarin alleged that the report of the committee set up by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on the workers’ crisis was sent to only the management of ExxonMobil.
According to him, the minister intervened and set up the committee after the company sacked 83 staff.
“Following the intervention of the minister, ten cases out of the 83 were set aside because they were high flier employees. But after the committee reported its report, the company started distributing another redundancy letters and even the 10 that were initially set aside were given redundancy letters,” Agarin explained.
Also speaking in Lagos, the Port Harcourt Zonal Chairman of PENGASSAN, Comrade Azubuike O. Azubuike confirmed that the picketing was also taking place in ExxonMobil offices in Port Harcourt and Eket.
“We are here at the corporate head office in Lagos for the amicable resolution of the crisis because my zone is also affected by the sack. I have activated the strike in Port Harcourt before coming to Lagos. We are hosting Eket, which is a stronghold of ExxonMobil. We will shut down completely,” he said.
Some of the placards carried by the workers read: “We demand to be treated with dignity by our management,” “No to racism in Nigeria,” and “Expat contractor $2,000 per day, One Expat = 20 Nigerian workers.”