Buhari legacy

Workers protest at Chevron, say company plans sack of 600 Nigerians

…as PENGASSAN seeks FG, NNPC’s intervention

Activities around the premises of Chevron Nigeria Limited, Ajah, Lagos, were on Friday morning disrupted as workers under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) staged a protest, accusing the oil company of planning to sack 600 Nigerians.

The workers said the sack was being planned despite an earlier plea by the Federal Government to companies not to worsen the unemployment situation in the country which has been further aggravated by the devastating effects of the coronavirus on the economy. They also alleged that workers of the company have been locked out by the management, “under the guise of Covid-19 restrictions.

Chairman of the Chevron branch of PENGASSAN, Ete Oyegbanren, and the secretary, Lavin Aghaunor, who addressed journalists during the protest, alleged that “2,000 workers were “constructively dismissed” and asked to reapply for fresh jobs, while 600 of them have been pencilled down to be sacked at the end of the fresh recruitment based on a pseudo reorganisation of the company.”

They continued: “Chevron management experimented with Work From Home (WFH) since the outbreak of Covid-19 in March 2020 and discovered that since Nigerians can work from their homes during the lockdown period using internet, the same work being done by Nigerians here can be done remotely by Americans from the US hence the move to sack 600 Nigerians and replace them with Americans who would be working remotely from the US. This is a case of worsening the unemployment situation in Nigeria and using same to address those of America.”

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The workers said the plan to sack the 600 workers was against the recent advice by the government to employers not to further worsen the unemployment situation amid the devastating effect of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are aware that the Federal Government advised companies not to sack Nigerian workers under the guise of Covid-19. We have credible information that Chevron management is boasting that the President of Nigeria cannot dictate to them how to run the company, despite the fact that NNPC owns 60 percent of the Joint Venture.

The 600 workers that are being sacked are primarily lower cadre employees whose salaries are negligible when compared with the humongous emoluments paid to their American expatriate counterparts.

Recall that the Federal Government pays 60 percent of the massive salaries and allowances of these expatriates and Chevron management plans to engage more expatriates in America who will replace the 600 Nigerians currently being sacked in the current scheme,” they said.

Meanwhile, the national leadership of PENGASSAN said it had earlier appealed to the management of Chevron to suspend the process and allow both parties to reach agreement on an amicable voluntary separation exercise such that workers may opt to exit but this conciliatory offer was rebuffed.

“Instead, 2,000 workers on Thursday received notification that their services were no longer required by Chevron and those interested can apply afresh for new jobs wherein 600 of them would be subsequently declared redundant and their appointment terminated.

“The plan of Chevron management is part of a grand scheme by multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria to gradually relocate work being done in Nigeria to their home country. In this instance, there will be offshoring of 600 Nigerian jobs to America thereby worsening the unemployment situation in Nigeria. As patriotic Nigerians, PENGASSAN shall resist this with all tools available to her,” the association said.

We call on the Federal Government of Nigeria to call the management of Chevron to order and direct them to comply with Nigerian laws and regulations in the oil and gas industry. We particularly appeal to the group managing director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the director of Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to ensure that Nigeria’s national interest is protected in this unfolding situation,” PENGASSAN said.

When contacted on telephone, the management of Chevron said they would respond to the workers’ allegation via a press statement to be issued later.