Members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) today, Thursday July 9, 2020 simultaneously staged two separate peaceful protests at the Victoria Island, Lagos and Trans Amadi Layout, Port Harcourt offices of Variant Energy Services, over what it described as anti labour practices by the company.
The picketing began very early in the morning with the affected workers holding placards with various inscriptions and chanting solidarity songs to drive home their legitimate demands from their recalcitrant employer.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read:
‘’Enough is enough over master–slave dialectic’’, ’’ Workers are not slaves’’, ’’Pay us our terminal benefits’’, ’’Pay us our money’’, “there shall be no peace for debtors’’.
Further inscriptions on the placards are “We say no to Variant Energy anti Labour posturing”, “Variant Energy thief!!!”, “Operation pay us our money on course”, “EFCC do your job on Valiant Energy!”, “Variant Energy must be punished for violating labour/employment guidelines”, “injury to one is injury to all, Variant Energy must repent in the interest of industrial peace”, “NUPENG can no longer be hoodwinked” etc.
Reacting to the protest in Lagos Comrade Tayo Aboyeji, Chairman of NUPENG Lagos Zone, said the Union is a law abiding one but its patience and understanding have been taken for granted by Variant Energy Services as well as their collaborators. He stressed that the action of the management of the company is somewhat provocative and an affront to the global best practices, decency and integrity in the oil and gas industry.
Comrade Aboyeji strongly condemned the unlawful termination of the employment of NUPENG members on the 28th of October, 2019 in very dubious manner and in violation of provisions of the extant labour law and failure of the management of Valiant Energy Services to pay the terminal benefits of the affected workers.
The well organized trade unionists in their large numbers defiled early morning downpour all wearing face masks and carefully observing social distancing protocols and guidelines maintained that they can no longer tolerate the flippant attitude of the management of the company and their principal company, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited.
Similarly, the Admin Head of the Port Harcourt Zonal office of NUPENG, Comrade Chinda Ejims on his part decried the flagrant refusal of the management to honour the path of peaceful negotiation and also frowned at the use of COVID-19 pandemic and slide in the global crude oil prices as part of the excuses to inhumanly and retrogressively rationalize anti labour practices at the expense of the already impoverished and depressed workers.
He noted that indecent work conditions, nonpayment of severance package for workers whose jobs had been terminated laden with flagrant and unprocedural behaviour would be justifiably resisted at all cost.