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PENGASSAN issues 72 hours ultimatum to Neconde Energy over sacked workers

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Members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) protesting against Neconde Energy Limited over anti-union policies. PHOTO: Toyin Olasinde

They were lawless say’s management
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has issued a 72-hour ultimatum to Neconde Management within which five sacked workers must be recalled to work or face industrial action.

Recalled that barely two weeks after the suspension of an industrial action embarked upon by over anti-labour practices and recalcitrance of the Neconde Energy Limited, the Management of Neconde sacked workers that participated in the industrial action.

But in reaction to the ultimatum, the management of Neconde has said no workers was laid off due to picketing instead were suspended as result of lawless act by the union during the picketing.

PENGASSAN described the development as a flagrantly violation of the terms and tenets of a communique signed on May 18, 2017, between the two parties towards the suspension of the picketing of the company.

In the communiqué which was signed by the representatives of the Company led by its Company/Board Secretary, Mr. Val Uche- Obi SAN, who signed on behalf of the Chairman Neconde Energy Limited- Dr. Ernest Azudialu, and the Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Frank Edozie, among others and PENGASSAN representatives led by Chairman, PENGASSAN Lagos Zone, Com. Abel Agarin, among others, it was agreed that nobody will be victimized on the ground of the industrial action.

The senior staff trade union said that the company terminated the employment of five members on June 1, 2017 based on the industrial actions.

The management of Neconde through its Corporate Communications Manager, Segun Fafore said the management did not lay off the workers.

“On the day the labour union came to picket the company some of our captains in the vessel where locked up all through the day and where denied access to movment, which lead the company to suspend the workers and not sack pending when the investigation will be carried out.”

According to a statement by Comrade Agarin, the Management of Neconde Energy Limited has resolved to continually harass and victimize senior staff members, particularly those who participated actively in the recent industrial action.

“It is our position that the termination exercise is unlawful, not in line with equity, good conscience, industrial relations best practices and extant labour laws. We are aware of the efforts by Neconde Management to balkanize the union and we are categorically saying that this will be vehemently resisted,” Agarin stated.

It would be recalled that the recent industrial action commenced on May 15, 2017 with the picketing of the premises of Neconde simultaneously in Lagos and Warri.

The catalogue of grievances that led to the industrial action include forceful restructuring (evidenced in Realignment, grade categorization and harmonization of salary structure and downgrade of conditions of service/contractual terms of employment) of Neconde to other non E&P subsidiaries of the Obijackson Group, Lack of evidence (TCC) of employee tax (PAYE) remittance in Lagos and Delta State since 2012, Non- payment of 2016 13th Month pay, Non-payment of field allowances since August 2016, forceful and immediate transfer of Union members (including pregnant women) from Lagos to Warri office with no consideration of impact on families, Non-payment of transfer allowances (two months after the forceful transfer), and Non-payment of severance benefit.

The Management of Neconde commenced discussion/negotiation with the Association while the picketing was ongoing. The meeting was deadlocked for days whilst member staff proceeded on indefinite strike until a final agreement was reached and executed as contained in the 15-18th May 2017 communique. The Association suspended the strike action on the basis of the agreement reached in utmost good faith but is taken aback by the ugly development from the same Management of Neconde exactly 8 working days since the agreement was reached and industrial/strike action was suspended.

Neconde Energy Limited (NEL) was incorporated in November 26, 2010 as an independent oil & gas company for the acquisition and development of petroleum assets. Neconde in partnership with the National Oil Company through its subsidiary- Nigerian Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (NPDC) jointly operates OML 42, a prolific asset within the western Niger Delta under the Asset Management Team (AMT) model. The company’s core operations focus on the exploration and development of oil and gas assets for the purpose of production and sale of crude oil and gas stock to generate revenue. The Company was initially owned by 3 (one foreign and two Nigerian) pioneer shareholders with Dr. Ernest Azudialu-Obiejesi owning 40% of Neconde. Following the acquisition of an additional 40% shareholding from an existing shareholder, Dr. Azudialu-Obiejesi became the controlling shareholder with 80% ownership of NEL. Following this acquisition, he purportedly integrated NEL into the Obijackson Group and NEL Senior/ Executive Management has since embarked on unilateral and massive restructuring of Neconde across a “fictitious” entity called Obijackson Group.



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