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IndustriALL again demands Shell address violations in supply chain

22 May, 2019IndustriALL Global Union, together with trade union affiliates from Nigeria and the Netherlands, called on Shell to address workers’ rights violations in its supply chain at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) in The Hague on 21 May.

Shell has refused to recognize serious breaches of its own code of conduct by its suppliers, which were raised at Shell’s AGM last year.

An IndustriALL mission to Nigeria in September 2018 witnessed first-hand how contract workers at Shell in Nigeria are living in poverty, with no job security and inadequate medical cover, while being denied the right to join a union.  

Speaking at the AGM, IndustriALL energy director, Diana Junquera Curiel, said:

“In September, I personally went to Nigeria and I saw these violations for myself. For your information, we have raised these violations with the International Labour Organiziation, the UN Global Compact and the United Nations Human Rights Council.” 

Last year, Shell made a commitment with three other oil companies to create a common framework for monitoring labour rights in their supply chains. However, the scheme is not transparent and excludes trade union participation.

“If Shell really wants to improve labour rights in its global supply chain, why does Shell refuse to work together with IndustriALL Global Union to address these issues?” asked Diana Junquera Curiel at the meeting.

“Shell says it only works with local unions, but problems in Shell’s global supply chain need global dialogue to find global solutions. Other multinational energy companies, such as Total and Eni, work with IndustriALL to improve workers’ rights in their supply chains, why can’t Shell do the same?”

Afolabi Olawale Olufemi, general secretary of NUPENG, which represents contract workers in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, called on Shell CEO, Ben van Beurden, to commission an independent study into the impact of Shell outsourcing in Nigeria:  

“Workers have been on the same wage since 2014. We signed a new collective bargaining agreement with Shell contractors last year but it has never been implemented. Oil and gas workers are toiling hard in Nigeria. The dividends you are earning are tainted by the tears of Nigerian workers.”

Shell’s CEO agreed to look into the matter but said that Shell does not have control over how suppliers pay or negotiate with workers. However, Van Beurden admitted that Shell contractors should honour Shell’s supplier principles. These include “compliance with all applicable laws and regulations on freedom of association and collective bargaining.”

NUPENG general secretary, Afolabe Olufemi, and president Williams Akporeha, raise their problems directly with the Shell CEO, Ben van Beurden after the AGM.

Joosje de Lang from IndustriALL’s Dutch affiliate, FNV, also made an appeal to the Shell Board on behalf of Shell members in the Netherlands. She called on Shell to apply the same international standards of workers’ rights enjoyed by workers in the Netherlands to all Shell workers around the world.

“It is clear that Shell contractors in Nigeria are breaking Shell supplier principles. We urge Shell to take action to ensure contractor companies adhere to fundamental labour rights, as in accordance with its own standards,” said IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan. “We are, as ever, open to dialogue with Shell to help resolve these issues.”