The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has called on the Federal Government to urgently intervene over the sack of 600 workers by Chevron Nigeria Limited, directing the management of the oil firm to comply with the laws and regulations governing Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
The oil workers expressed their displeasure during a protest at the entrance of the firm yesterday, saying over 2,000 Nigerian workers were locked out by Chevron under the pretense of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Branch Chairman and Secretary, Chevron PENGASSAN, Ete Oyegbanren, and Lavin Aghaunor respectively, alleged that all the 2,000 workers were constructively dismissed and asked to re-apply for fresh jobs, while 600 of them were already penciled down to be sacked at the end of the fresh recruitment based on a pseudo organisation of the company.
They alleged that Chevron experimented with the work from the home initiative and discovered that since Nigerians could work from home, the same work being done by Nigerians in the country could also be done remotely by Americans from the United States, hence the move to sack 600 Nigerians and replace them with Americans who would also be working remotely from the United States.
Oyegbanren said appeals made to Chevron management by National PENGASSAN to suspend the process and allow both parties to agree on an amicable voluntary separation exercise were rebuffed.
He said all the 2,000 workers last Thursday received notification that their services were no longer required, stating that those interested could apply afresh for new jobs wherein 600 of them would be subsequently declared redundant and their appointments terminated.
They alleged that Chevron boasted that even President Buhari could not dictate to them how to run the company despite the fact that NNPC owns 60 per cent of the Joint Venture, even as the Federal Government has advised companies not to sack Nigerian workers under the guise of COVID-19.
Oyegbanren maintained that the plan of the oil firm was part of a grand scheme by multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria to gradually relocate work done in Nigeria to their home country, worsening the unemployment situation in Nigeria.
The branch chairman noted that the 600 workers that were sacked were primarily lower cadre employees whose salaries were negligible compared with the huge emoluments paid to their American expatriates’ counterparts.
While also calling on the Group Managing Director of the NNPC and the DPR to ensure that Nigeria’s national interest was protected, the oil workers vowed to spread their tentacles and resist sack by the international oil firm.
Efforts made by The Guardian to reach out to the management of Chevron Nigeria Limited was futile as several calls and text messages sent to the Industrial Relations Manager of Chevron, Ken Narebor, were not responded to.