Business activities at Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) offices across the country were on Monday paralysed by members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) who were protesting alleged anti-labour practices by management of the oil giant.
The aggrieved members of the oil workers' union had barricaded the Corporate Head Office of Shell located along Marina, Lagos with tankers as early as 6:30am on Monday morning thereby disrupting both human and vehicular movement along the busy street.
THISDAY gathered that all the zonal offices of Shell in Lagos, Warri, Kaduna, Port Harcourt and Abuja were equally shut down by NUPENG following a prolonged industrial dispute with the management of SPDC.
The placard-carrying members of NUPENG said the picketing of Shell formations nationwide was due to the "recalcitrant posture of the management towards the issue of unfair labour practices."
NUPENG's Acting General Secretary, Mr. Isaac Aberare, who led the picketing in Lagos said "the issue of casual, contract staff or service contracts staff without conditions of service has been in the front burner with Shell in recent times without any headway."
He explained that the contract workers in Shell have no conditions of service, adding that when their contracts are terminated, they were not paid severance benefits other than one month's salary irrespective of the number of years in service.
Speaking further, he noted that the union had engaged the management of the oil firm on several occasions on the plight of contract workers, but regretted that nothing was done by management.
"The union has made several representations to the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Minister of Labour and the management of Shell over these contractors intransigence with no visible result. It is unfortunate that Shell and its contractors have consistently and fragrantly breached all agreements/communiqué and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached at meetings.
"Shell will promise to pre-qualify and monitor the contracts to meet minimum labour standards, but up till date it has not done so.
"The issue has become a social phenomenon and hydra-headed evil in labour relations with Shell which has refused to heed our call to review the conditions of service of these workers but to no avail despite series of meetings held," he said.
The union's scribe accused Shell of being the major purveyor of enslaving Nigerians through exploitative contract and agency labour employment otherwise known as outsourcing.
He said: "The union condemns the inhuman, exploitative and anti-labour tendencies of Shell and its labour contractors, most especially as it relates to its oil exploration and production in Nigeria.
"NUPENG reiterates that following series of struggles by the workers in the oil and gas industry, since late 1980s, successive governments and their agencies, (Federal Ministry of Labour) have been intervening to apprehend industrial actions of the union against the anti-labour initiatives of Multi-national Oil Corporations and their labour contractors in Nigeria, culminating in series of agreements and communiqué." signed.
Aberare further revealed that the management of Shell has introduced a new business model known as divestment stressing that the new policy is having serious implications for industrial relations in the oil and gas industry.
He lamented that management of Shell had outsourced all employees in the fire department and converted them to casuals without engaging the union on the labour related issues.
"The management of Shell has refused to recognise the caretaker committee set up to replace the dissolved union executives accused of anti-union activities; instead it sacked the chairman of the caretaker committee and 16 others under the guise of divestment. This is victimisation for trade union activity," he added.
He said the industrial action will continue today until management accedes to the demands of the union.