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Unions not consulted on Chevron Nigeria plans to lay-off 1,000 workers

15 October, 2020IndustriALL Global Union affiliates in Nigeria that organize in the oil and gas sector, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) say they were not consulted on the proposed lay-off of 1,000 workers at Chevron Nigeria.

The unions say Chevron’s failure to consult is part of the company’s “anti-labour practices” that are aimed at laying off 600 permanent and 400 contract workers in violation of Nigerian labour laws. Consultation would allow unions to understand why such a drastic decision was made and also gives them the opportunity to suggest alternatives to the lay-offs.

Ofolabi Olawale, NUPENG general secretary and Lumumba Okugbawa, PENGASSAN general secretary wrote in a letter to the company on 2 October:

“It is so disconcerting to receive the news that management has commenced the process to sack about 600 regular employees of Chevron Nigeria Limited without any form of engagement or discussion with the leadership of NUPENG and PENGASSAN. Such action is nothing but violation of the existing labour laws concerning disengagement of employees and a clear affront on the union and association.”

Further, the unions say Chevron has been involved in unfair labour practices that include failure to carry over leave days from 2018 into the current contracts. The company also owes workers money after excessive deductions were made to terminal benefits in 2012.

The unions propose that there should be immediate consultations on the lay-offs, that negotiations for collective bargaining agreements should begin, and that NUPENG workers who have attained new qualifications should be promoted. Stagnation of workers for 5-11 years is unfair and should be reversed. Contract workers should also be allowed to ride on the company buses and workers working from home should be given data and ergonomic allowances.

Okugbawa said: “The bone of contention is on the modalities of the exit. While the management want redundancy; the unions want the process to be voluntary. We are also not convinced about the numbers being proposed by the Chevron management. They want 25 per cent of the workers to be laid off.”

Diana Junquera Curiel, IndustriALL director of the energy industry said:

“We call upon Chevron Nigeria to engage with the unions. To build better industrial relations oil companies must consult unions on lay-offs instead of making unilateral decisions. It is important for labour practices to be fair to the workers and this can only be reached through negotiations with the unions.”

Photo: Roo Reynolds