….Accuse company of relocating jobs to America
Bimbola Oyesola, [email protected]
Oil workers at the weekend picketed the headquarters of Chevron Nigeria Limited over plans by the company to sack 600 workers and relocate their jobs to America. The workers, members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), raised the alarm over the purported plan, which they said was at the final stage.
Addressing the media during the protest at Chevron office in Lagos, the branch chairman of PENGASSAN, Ete Oyegbanren, noted that more than 2,000 Nigerian workers have been locked out of the office by Chevron Nigeria Limited under the guise of COVID-19 restrictions.
He stated that all the 2,000 workers were “constructively dismissed” and then asked to reapply 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-reorganisation of the company.
Oyegbanren averred that Chevron’s management has been experimenting with ‘Work from Home’ since the outbreak of COVID -19 in March 2020. He explained that the company was capitalising on the fact that, since Nigerians could work from their homes during the lockdown period using Internet connection, the same work being done by Nigerians in the country could be done remotely by Americans from the United States, hence, the move to sack 600 Nigerians and replace them with Americans who would be working from the US.
He described the plan as an attempt to worsen the unemployment situation in Nigeria and use same to address unemployment situation of America.
The chairman stated that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has made the creation of one million jobs per year a cornerstone of the administration and government also went further by approving the recruitment of over 1,000 employees for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
He said, “We are also 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 per cent of the joint venture.”
According to Oyegbanren, the 600 workers that are to be sacked are primarily lower cadre employees whose salaries are negligible compared with the humongous emoluments paid to their American expatriate counterparts. He revealed that government pays 60 per cent of the massive salaries and allowances of the expatriates and Chevron plans to engage more expatriate in America who will replace the 600 Nigerians being sacked in the current scheme.
The branch chairman said, to worsen matters, none of the top management staff of the company, including the chairman and managing director, who earn the largest chunk of what constitutes high apex, is affected by the sack, instead, the same top management has chosen to sack 600 lower level workers whose only crime was working hard to sustain Nigeria’s oil and gas production even in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that PENGASSAN had earlier appealed to 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, all 2,000 workers on October 1 received notification that their services were no longer required by Chevron and those interested could apply afresh for new jobs, wherein 600 of them would be subsequently declared redundant and their appointment terminated.
He condemned the plan, which he described as part of a grand scheme by multinational oil companies operating in Nigeria to relocate work being done in Nigeria to their home countries.
He stressed that, in this instance, there will be outsourcing of 600 Nigerian jobs to America, thereby worsening the unemployment situation in Nigeria, But he vowed that the workers, as patriotic Nigerians, would resist this with all tools available to them.