Unending crisis: ExxonMobil, PENGASSAN row deepen

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Oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Mobil Producing Nigeria Branch, have been directed to withdraw their services totally from all locations after talks to resolve a dispute with a subsidiary of United States’ ExxonMobil Corporation failed on Thursday.

This is coming a week after the oil workers rejected a directive from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, that the industrial action should be suspended.

The oil workers are protesting the alleged refusal of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited to honour an agreement that it will review the sacking of 83 employees in December and that none of the workers that participated in a protest that month will be sanctioned for their actions.

The Chairman, PENGASSAN and NUPENG PIB Committee, Mr. Chika Onuegbu, had earlier on Friday told our correspondent that the union and the oil major had agreed to resolve the dispute and were to sign a communiqué to that effect.Onuegbu later told our correspondent that the union had escalated its strike “with progressive shut-in of oil wells in Mobil” following the inability of both parties to agree on the communiqué.

Last week, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, after failed attempts by the government to settle the matter, referred the dispute between PENGASSAN and ExxonMobil to the Industry Arbitration Panel for resolution.

The IAP, in a letter dated May 16, 2016, a copy of which was seen by our correspondent, said its chairman had constituted a three-man tribunal to hear and determine the dispute within 21 days in compliance with Section 13 of the Trade Dispute Act Cap T8 LFN 2004, with the dispute fixed for hearing on Friday, May 19 in Abuja.

“It is hereby ordered that the parties, by the powers granted the Tribunal under Section 18(1), (2) and (3) of the TDA, be and are hereby restrained from embarking on any lock-outs and strikes pending the determination of this dispute,” the panel said.

“We refer you to ab=n earlier letter from National PENGASSAN dated May 2, 2017, directing the branch, with the full support of national secretariat, to take all necessary actions it can industrial relations wise to fully address the concerns of our members regarding the 2016 management initiated separation programme.“The struggle continues and we will stop at nothing to get our members their deserved welfare.”

Onuegbu said the union went to the panel on Friday, adding, “PENGASSAN was represented by its lawyers. But you know that PENGASSAN will go ahead with the strike.

“In as much as we respect the Industrial Arbitration Panel’s process, we recognise the fact that the strike was already on before the arbitration process commenced.”Punch

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