5 June 2008

Nigeria: PENGASSAN Threatens Chevron With Strike

Lagos — LEADERS of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Chevron Nigeria Limited have threatened to direct members to begin an indefinite industrial action today over alleged unfair working environment, increasing expatriate quota abuse and among others.

Unit Secretary of PENGASSAN in Chevron, Comrade .Jonathan Omare, told Vanguard on telephone yesterday that a seven-day ultimatum issued by the PENGASSAN unit of Chevron and addressed to the President, Chevron Corporation, United States, over these issues expired yesterday and the leadership of union could no longer guarantee industrial peace from today.

There is fears that about 450,000 barrels of Crude Oil per day produced by the company may be threatened, while multi-billion Naira Agbari Project expected to start delivery of 250,000 barrels per day by June 15, 2008 may also be affected.

Among other the unit leaders of PENGASSAN are accusing the Managing Director in Nigeria of racism, abuse of expatriate quota, systematic reduction of Nigerian Management Staff, Carefree attitude to Safety Standards and arbitrary sack of Nigerians.

Other things the unit PENGASSAN accused the Chairman/Managing Director in Nigeria of racism, abuse of expatriate quota, systematic reduction of Nigerian Management Staff, Carefree attitude to Safety Standards and arbitrary sack of Nigerians.

According to Comrade Omare, the resumption of Nelson in 2006 had heralded falling safety standards which has resulted in increased rate of incidents.

Comrade Omare said: "He (Nelson) has been in the habit of traumatizing Nigerian workers. Always daring us to fight. We know the consequences of confrontation on the world economy, our reputation and competitive edge. It is for these reasons that we took the option of letting you remove him in peace."

On the issue of abuse of expatriate quota, he alleged that "a few years ago, the Chairman and Managing Director of Chevron Nigeria Limited had about six national direct report and only two expatriates. The recent re-organisation of the upper echelon of Chevron Nigeria undertaking by Fred had only one objective: to remove all Nigerians from all position of authority and influence.

Of the 34 top positions in Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) only eight are Nigerians, leaving a whopping 26 for expatriates. Of four directors reporting to the Managing Director, only one is a Nigerian while al five Managers reporting to that Nigerian are all expatriates".

The unit PENGASSAN also alleged that the priority of the Managing Director "has always been production followed by cost reduction especially when it has to do with Nigerians, safety comes a distant third.

On the issue of Pension Fund, Comrade Omare accused Nelson of not allowing workers' representation on the board of the fund.

According to him: "By virtue of his being the Chairman and Managing Director of Chevron, he is the Chairman of the board that administers our pension fund. Workers have asked to be represented on the board to safeguard their pension and their future, but Fred has refused. What we now see is that he, without consulting the owners of the money has allocated the fund's 40 hectares of land to build an American International School in Nigeria and houses for more expatriates he plan to bring."

Comrade Omare, added, "we no long have confidence in fed; neither can we continue to bear his excesses as evolution shows he has not intention of repenting."

Efforts to speak with management of Chevron over the matter yielded no result. An official from Public and Government relations department of the company who promised to return Vanguard call, did not at the time of this report.

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