Address To The Press By NUPENG President Comrade Williams Akporeha, July 2, 2020

ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE NATIONAL PRESIDENT OF NUPENG, COMRADE (PRINCE) WILLIAMS AKPOREHA AT THE END OF THE VIRTUAL NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL (NEC)

MEETING OF THE UNION ON JULY 2ND, 2020

Gentlemen of the Press,

I am very delighted to welcome you all to the National Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to share with us some of the outcomes and resolutions taken at the end of the Virtual National Executive Council meeting of our great Union today.

I wish to use this medium to commend the media for the wonderful work the media has been rendering to humanity even in this period of Covid-19 pandemic, through education and information to the public.

We are all aware that Covid-19 pandemic has profoundly altered every aspects of humanity. New Socio- economic realities have been foisted on the world and everyone has been forced into accepting the new world order.

There is also no denying the fact that Covid-19 pandemic has taken massive toils on all working people all over the world. Many have lost their lives, some infected and many others lost their sources of income and livelihood.

COMMENDATIONS

Gentlemen of the Press, on behalf of the leadership of our great Union, we want to specially call out for appreciation and commendations, all our indomitable and irrepressible members who in the face of all the risks and challenges of the period, have been out there day and night working hard to keep the economy of our great country running and productive.

These are highly productive and patriotic Nigerians in crude oil and natural gas prospecting, drilling, refining and distribution including but not limited to the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, Petrol Stations Workers, Depot Workers, Independent/ Major Marketers Workers etc.

We salute your courage, commitment and selfless service to the nation. You have kept our nation moving and the wheels of the machines in our factories running. Through your gallant efforts the economy of our great nation refuses to go under. The good Lord will reward you in multiple folds.

The Union is aware that some of them in the course of carrying out these onerous tasks have been infected and murdered by Security Agents during this period. We commiserate with the families of those who lost their beloved ones and empathize with those affected and infected by the pandemic. We assure all of you of our continuing prayers and support to you and your families.

Let me also on behalf of the leadership appreciate some of our employers who have been consistently showing empathy and support to their workers during this trying period.

We are aware and recognize the fact that businesses have also suffered so many setbacks during this period and every employer that still respects and guarantees worker’s rights and benefits deserves our appreciation and commendations.

Prominent amongst these companies who have shown remarkable empathy and support to Workers at this auspicious times include Indorama Eleme Petrochemical Plc in Port-Harcourt, Chevron Nigeria Limited and to a great extent, Total E&P and Total Nigeria, we hope that other international oil companies (IOC’s) like Exxon Mobil, Shell Petroleum Development Company and indigenous Companies/ Contractors would emulate the aforementioned companies by protecting jobs, rights and benefits of their workforce including contract workers and service providers.

The leadership of our great Union also commends the Honourable Minister of Labour, and Employment, (Senator) Dr. Chris Ngige, and Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva for their commitment and untiring efforts in saving jobs and making quick interventions on all matters of unfair labour practices by some IOC’s and ingenious Companies/Contractors during this period of Covid-19 pandemic.

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ISSUES

The wake of the Covid-19 outbreak brought about several issues of work closures, redundancies and unfair labour practices by some employers in the oil and gas industry.

Unfortunately, some employers in the industry have been exploiting the situation of Covid-19 to embark on unbridled declarations of redundancies without any form of empathy or consideration for the productive efforts of these workers before Covid-19.

As usual, our Union responded appropriately to these issues concerning the massive wave of loss of employment in the Nigeria oil and gas industry by taking them before various institutions and agencies of the Federal Government. These issues are not limited only to redundancies being declared but coupled as well with that other sharp practices being perpetrated by some companies in the industry to exploit and impoverish Nigerian workers in the midst of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

  1. The first of such unscrupulous indigenous employer our Union is calling out is MR. ADLOR .A. UWAMU the owner of Valiant Energy Services West Africa and Vicadis Enterprises Nigeria Limited, Labour Contractor to Borr Drilling Nigeria Limited for running away with workers terminal entitlements. Workers in this matter, who are our members, had their employment unlawfully terminated on the 28th of October, 2019 in very dubious and wicked manners while the employer absconded with their last month salary and final entitlements in violation of provisions of the extant labour law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

These workers worked on the Rig of Borr Drilling Nigeria Limited for TOTAL E&P and Shell Petroleum Development Company during this period.

  1. ADOLOR .A. UWAMU’s stock in trade is setting up of multiple companies with wicked intentions to dupe his employees at the end of every contract, gain undue advantage in securing contracts and avoid statutory obligations to all levels of government in the country.

Our findings reveal, that Mr. Adolor further set up the following five companies, all with same management and housed in same official address at 43 Power Line Road, Kajola Magboro, Ogun State. These companies are:

1       Ilantrisant Limited

2       Caplina Limited

3       Ilandudno Limited

4       Pastunwali Limited

5       Mantrax Limited

Since we reported this matter to Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, MR. ADOLOR .A. UWAMU has been avoiding all invitations and calls from the Ministry and other Government Agencies thereby frustrating every effort to make him account for his misdeeds. It should be noted here, that he may be hiding away from government institutions; he cannot hide from the Union and in few days, we shall commence some actions against him across the Country.

The action of management to say the least is very provocative and an affront to global best practices, decency and integrity in the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry. MR. ADOLOR .A. UWAMU and his various companies are bad examples of Nigerian businessmen and must be held accountable.

We shall use all the powers at our disposal to get justice for our members.

  1. Mobil Producing Unlimited – As you may be aware, Exxon Mobil has no single permanent Nigerian in its employment from the middle level to lower level cadre. The company does not deem it fit and proper for Nigerian Polytechnic and vocational schools graduates to be employed and has further directed its Contractors to terminate 257 of Contract workers in its operations while the Management keeps using the excuse of the lockdown not to engage with the Union. Those affected by the action even include elected Union executives.
  2. XEPAMEADOW – The issues of refusal to negotiate Collective Bargaining Agreement with the workers and recognizing workers rights in the workplace have been lingering for the past 10 years with the Contractor colluding with Chevron Nigeria Limited to deny the workers these rights even after the Federal Ministry of Labour had ruled and advised on the matter appropriately.
  3. ARCO vs General Electric vs FIRS – The continuing refusal of General Electric to refund back to ARCO the sum total of the over deducted withholding tax running into millions of Naira and Dollars deducted from ARCO account and remitted to FIRS is a matter of serious concern to the rank and file members of our Union and its attendance effect on the ARCO workers who are our members.

The terminal entitlements of our members have suffered unnecessary delays over the sudden emergence of new condition for the refund.

We demand very strongly that General Electric should without further delay find ways and means to pay back this money. The patience of our members has been overstretched on this matter. The leadership of both NUPENG and PENGASSAN have resolved to take some decisive actions on this matter very soon if the refund is not made.

We therefore call on the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment and the Nigeria Local Contents Monitoring and Development Board to use their good offices to passionately consider the plight of the poor workers that have toiled for several years for this money at the center of the matter and to rescue a genuine Nigerian employer from the antics of General Electric.

F        IPPIS ISSUE AND DELAYED SALARIES

The leadership of NUPENG and PENGASSAN are seriously concerned over the ways and manners Oil and Gas workers are being treated on the issue of IPPIS and the unwholesome suspension of payment of salaries and allowances of our members in those institutions that are affected. It is unfair and inhuman to owe workers salary for upward of three months in this hard period of Covid-19. We urgently call on the Federal Ministry of Petroleum to wade into this matter before it degenerates further than this.

G        FEDERAL STIMULUS FUND FOR PETROLEUM HAULAGE SECTOR

We wish to urgently draw the attention of the Federal Government to the harrowing experiences of the Owners of Petroleum Trucks in the Country. As you all know the only means of moving petroleum products across the country is by roads using the trucks. We can confidently tell you that this means of distribution is presently endangered and require urgent Federal Government stimulus intervention fund to prevent it from total collapse. A stitch in time saves nine as the saying goes.

DEPLORABLE STATE OF OUR ROADS

We are shocked at the lackadaisical attitude of States and Federal Governments to the issues of addressing the degenerating state of Nigeria roads before the coming of the current raining season despite all our warnings for them to make necessary construction, repairs and maintenance of all our roads, which are now in parlous state and becoming practically impassable.

Most of the nation’s highways are becoming death traps for our members, most especially the highways in the Calabar-Itu-Uyo, Port-harcourt – Aba, Mokwa-Jebba – Kaduna, Port-Harcourt – Owerri, Warri-Benin-Auchi-Okene-Lokoja stretch of the country.

EXTORTION BY SECURITY AGENTS

The issues of bad roads is further compounded by the various security agencies who now set up multiple check points on these deplorable roads to further exploit and extort money from motorists. Petroleum Tanker Drivers are the worst hit by the exploitative tendencies of these unscrupulous security agencies.

The brazen extortion of our members, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic was really disconcerting and unfortunate. As a Union, we cannot continue to fold our hands and watch our members, who toil day and night, in the rain, cold and sunshine to make our economy grow to keep suffering like this.

In the light of the above, we are giving the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum to

  • Commence total rehabilitation of these roads to save lives and properties as we can no longer tolerate the current situation of things.
  • Immediately address the issue of multiple road blocks and extortions from all its security agents mainly, the Army, Police, Civil Defense Corps, if not addressed, we may be forced to embark on a serious industrial action to drive home our case. Enough is enough of these molestation, harassment, exploitation and extortion by these uniformed men. From Monday 6th July all our Tanker Drivers are to commence putting green leaves in front of their trucks and from Monday 13th July we shall commence two (2) hours morning prayers at every loading location and stop over spots for Petroleum Tanker Drivers.

INSECURITY IN THE LAND

The Union is again very worried about rampant cases of banditry, kidnapping, killings of innocent Nigerians especially in the northern parts of the country.

We are also perturbed about the spate of attacks by unknown herdsmen on farmers in the Southern part of the Country. It is so sad to see gory stories of deaths, kidnapping, robbery, rape and destruction on our daily media headlines.

We call on the Federal Government to restructure the security architecture to make it more proactive in tackling these security issues that are gradually becoming endemic.

We cannot afford to allow evil men take over the land and subject our people to gruesome deaths and perpetual fear.

Be that as it may, I want to sincerely thank you all for your attention and God bless.

Stay safe to stay alive!!!

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