By Seyi Babalola
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has stated that it is prepared to close all oil field sites in the country if ongoing talks with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) fail to produce favorable outcomes.
Comrade Festus Usifo, President of the TUC, made the warning on Channels Television on Wednesday.
On September 4, Oando PLC signed a deal with ENI, an Italian global energy corporation, to acquire 100% of the shares of Nigerian AGIP Oil corporation Limited.
Concerns have been expressed concerning the status of Nigerian employees at Agip Company following the ownership shift.
In response to the points expressed, Usifo stated that the Union’s position is for Agip Company to follow due procedure.
According to him, the TUC is opposed to rolling its members over to Oando PLC without proper development plans for people who have worked for Agip Company for many years.
Usifo said, “What we are asking is that we need to be sure, our members have worked with NAOC over the years, some have worked for over thirty years, some at the point of retirement, and you are saying you want to hand them over to a new company.
“The question is; the liabilities that have been incurred by Agip, the pension, gratuity you are supposed to pay these people? Does Oando have the financial wherewithal to be able to meet these financial obligations to our members? That is the first thing.
“As a patriotic association, we are also asking Oando, you are buying this, what is your development plan? Because the future of our members depends on that company, if the company folds then our members will go home.
“If we are not satisfied with the plans, we will say, pay us our obligations; we do not want to be transited into Oando, pay us our money.
“I have worked for you for 35 years; I have worked for you for thirty years; pay me my perseverance, and let’s discuss a special separation package so that I go.
“If I now want to join Oando it would be based on my discretion, anything I see I take, but the years I have put in Agip and NAOC settle me”.
The TUC President insists that Oando PLC cannot manage and sustain production like the International Oil Companies, IOCs, who inject finances into managing the assets.
“When the IOCs were managing most of these assets, they had the finances to inject into it, and we could have sustained production. That is the real challenge we would be having, and those are the discussions we are also fronting with Agip group.
“Part of operations like stimulation operations, they do not do well enhancement so we would have issues. Those wells will start declining”.
He said Agip must sit and have a conversation with the operators working in the oil field locations and ensure their demands are met.
“We have people who are working in the field locations, the operators working there; you cannot bring people who are dissatisfied to be running your assets it does not work like that.
“Who is going to run it? Is it the management of Oando that will just come there and start pressing the buttons? No, you need these employees. So, you must sit down and have a conversation with them.
“If they insist on not complying, they know the consequence, we will withdraw our members from the respective field locations. What we are doing now is conversation, consultation, and discussion with the Agip management”.
Meanwhile, members of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) in Agip have held a series of prayer sessions in various NAOC offices and field locations across Delta, Rivers, Imo, and Bayelsa States.
The workers are using the prayer sessions to seek God’s intervention, and support from the Federal Government and relevant government agencies to impress on NAOC to follow due process on the engagement of Nigerian workers in the sales of NAOC shares to Oando.
They prayed that the Nigerian labour laws would be enforced strictly to protect the interests of the workforce during the tumultuous transition and the protection of all their members whom the alleged sale of Eni’s assets to Oando has unleashed a storm of uncertainty, fear and despair upon its loyal workforce.