By Adewale Sanyaolu
Exxonmobil has sacked about 150 Nigerian workers in what its management described as a regular evaluation of its operation as part of a disciplined management process.
But the Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Exxonmobil branch, Mr. Paul Eboigbe, in a telephone interview with Daily Sun, said the sacking of the workers did not follow due process, and cannot stand in the face of the law.
Eboigbe said while discussions and negotiations were still ongoing, and a final agreement yet to be reached, the management unilaterally abandoned talks and went ahead to issue sack letters to the 150 affected workers.
He said the ploy deployed by the management was to exit Nigerian workers and in return bring in expatriates to take up the jobs that Nigerians were capable of executing, lamenting that the salary of an expatriate could pay the salaries of 10 Nigerians.
The union leader said a couple of sectional heads and General Managers were sacked in an undignified manner to pave way for the employment of the expatriates, saying PENGASSAN would not allow that to happen. ‘‘We adjourned the meeting to reconvene at a later date. And while waiting to continue talks, the management started issuing sack letters to the affected workers. This ill treatment cannot stand. And we will do all we can to resist it.”
On what the next line of action would be, Eboigbe said he has directed all his members in offshore location to down tools while similar instruction is being carried out at the Exxonmobil headquarters in Victoria Island, Lagos.
Responding, Exxonmobil Manager, Media and Communications, Mr. Oge Udeagha, explained that ExxonMobil regularly evaluates its operations as part of a disciplined management process and continually strives to operate its business in as safe and efficient a manner as possible.
‘‘We invest for the long term and are focused on maintaining a stable, well-developed workforce and are committed to treating our employees with respect and in accordance with applicable rules and regulations,’’ he said.
According to him, the development is a limited programme that will impact a relatively small fraction of employees, adding that special benefits specifically introduced for this purpose will be paid to affected employees consistent with existing labour agreements.
The company, he said, is also arranging special programmes to support the transition from the company for those affected, saying that Exxonmobil respects the rights of its workforce and will continue to engage with them to resolve the situation.