NUPENG threatens industrial action over NAOC sale 

*Nigerian Agip Oil Company

Mkpoikana Udoma

Port Harcourt — The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has vowed to resist the sale of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, NAOC, until all industrial relations issues with the company workers are properly discussed and resolved.

To this end, NUPENG has charged the Federal government to halt the sale of NAOC and to conduct a full investigation on the processes of the sale as well as ensure Agip properly engages with the workers, whether permanent, contract and service workers in order to reach meaningful agreements.

Secretary General of NUPENG, Comrade Afolabi Olawale, in a protest letter to the Managing Director of NAOC, said selling the company without discussions with the worKers was a criminal attempt to deprive Nigerian workers who are members of the Union, from getting their statutory benefits having worked in the company for years.

Olawale, who described the sale of NAOC as an affront on the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, said such was not obtainable in Italy, the home country of NAOC’s parent company, Eni.

According to him, it was contemptuous for Agip to be sold without proper engagement and transparent discussion with the workers or the Union, especially on work-related issues as it affects their job security.

The letter partly read: “We are deeply constrained to register our strong protest and displeasure over the  reported sales of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited to Oando Plc, an act we consider to be suspiciously illegal and fraudulent, considering all the secrecy it was shrouded under by the parties and demand that the sale should be put on hold.

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“It is a normal global practices that such business decisions and actions as sales or mergers of business concerns are usually done with transparency and involvement of all critical stakeholders, most especially the shareholders and the workers who are daily committing their entire resources and lives to the sustainability and growth of such business concerns.”

It continued: “Collectively-as the Union, we are strongly suspicious of the reported sale with all its attendant’s secrecy and the hurried manner it has been executed. And in the light of that, we have alerted and requested all relevant authorities to reject it as illegal  and fraudulent in same manner we are doing.

“It is disheartening and sad that the management of NAOC would decide to embark on the outright sales of the organization without engaging the Union and workers who are critical stakeholders, an act that Agip would never do in their home country.

“This unilateral decision by the management is not only illegal, fraudulent but also an affront and contemptuous of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It’s also a criminal attempt to deprive the workers who are members of the Union from getting their statutory benefits having worked in the company for years.

“We wish to state that the lack of respect and insensitivity to the rights of workers,  Nigerians and global best practices by the management of Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited will not be tolerated, therefore, as a responsible and responsive Union we will resist it with all our might in order to ensure that all industrial relations issues are properly discussed, resolved and settled.

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“We are mindful of the effects of our industrial actions on the fragile economy of Nigeria, but at the same time, as a responsible and responsive industrial union, we owe our members the duties to defend and protect their job interests and security.

“It is in the light of the above, that we are calling on you to use your good office to urgently do the needful for all industrial relations issues to be resolved in order to avert industrial actions from the Union.”

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