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Oil unions rue NNPC sacking of 850 refinery workers amid COVID-19 pandemic

Timipre Sylva

Oil unions have lamented the sacking of 850 contract workers at the nation’s refineries by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The groups, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association made this known on Monday, regretting that the NNPC management could take such an action in the midst of the ravaging effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

Their position was contained in a joint statement entitled ‘NUPENG and PENGASSAN strongly react to comments by Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, on refineries and oil and gas workers’ and signed by by the National President, NUPENG, Williams Akporeha and his counterpart in PENGASSAN, Mr Ndukaku Ohaeri, as well as their general secretaries.

The statement read, “On the purported threat of the Group Managing Director of NNPC to sack workers, we wish to state here that it was actually no more a threat but that it had already been carried out with the sack of 850 support staff in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, throwing almost a thousand workers into hard financial situation without an iota of empathy or consultation with the union.”

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Noting that they did not at any time threatened to go on strike, but that they only demanded to be engaged for a dialogue on the commensurate terminal benefits of the workers who had worked for 10 to 15 years, the unions said:

“We found it rather highly inhuman and unfair on the part of NNPC management to sack these workers with only their last pay cheques after 15 good years of their lives in NNPC.

“If a Minister of Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Group Managing Director of NNPC can dismiss contract workers that have served for more than 10 years continuously as if they are rodents, what more can we expect from lOCs.

“The monthly salaries of 25 of these contract staff put together cannot equal a typical management staff salary of the same organisation.”

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