Addax Petroleum workers lock out MD, top officials

Addax Petroleum [Photo: Africa Oil & Gas reports]
Addax Petroleum [Photo: Africa Oil & Gas reports]

Nigeria may lose 30,000 barrels from its daily oil production as workers of Addax Petroleum Development Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Addax Petroleum, on Monday began an indefinite strike.

The company produces 30,000 barrels of oil from its offshore and onshore locations in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Asaba, Warri, and Izombe in the Niger Delta.

The workers Monday morning locked their Senior Vice President/Chief Executive, Colin Klappa, out of his office when he arrived the 32, Ozumba Mbadiwe Avenue, Victoria Island, Lagos office of the company to resume work.

He met other top management staff outside, as all the entrances to the premises were firmly locked by protesting workers.

A spokesperson of the company who is also the General Manager External & Government Affairs, Dorothy Atake, declined to react to the development.

“There is no reaction,” Ms Atake said in response to PREMIUM TIMES request.

The strike involves the 166 members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) staff from the company and 98 others who are management staff.

The workers’ action followed the expiration of the ultimatum the company’s chapter of PENGASSAN gave the management led by Mr Klappa over “some unresolved burning issues.”

The chairman of the local chapter of PENGASSAN, Chris Ogiewonyi, who confirmed the incident to our reporter on telephone on Monday directed him to contact the Union Secretary, Gerald Agwu, for further details.

When contacted, Mr Agwu told this newspaper the indefinite action was a culmination of a series of failed and inconclusive communications between the workers’ union and the management over alleged “culture of impunity against some of its officials.”

Mr Agwu listed some of the issues to include alleged unilateral interpretation of the subsisting collective bargaining agreement (CBA) reached between the union and management in August 2014 on issues bordering on activation of non-statutory remunerations to members.

Others included alleged selective, targeted victimisation of union leaders identified as not working in line with management interest; stagnation of some staff for between 10 to 12 years, and discriminatory promotion of workers.

“The agreement (CBA) was jettisoned by the previous management. With the new MD, we thought we should have had a satisfactory resolution of these issues.

“But, we have observed that victimisation of union leaders, punitive transfers, selective performance appraisal and other actions have continued. The present management seems to have sustained the culture of impunity. We feel there has been a systematic attempt targeted at leaders of the association to make union leadership unattractive,” Mr Agwu said.

Apart from a series of letters by the chapter (March 12, 2018), Zonal (March 28, 2018) and National PENGASSAN on the issues, he said several inconclusive meetings were held with Addax management and the Human Resources (HR) team without any positive outcome.

“We believe the workers are the most valuable assets of the company. We cannot be treated with such levity. All we are asking for is for management to treat the workers right and fairly according to the terms of our collective bargaining agreement reached between workers and management, who are supposed to also be Nigerians. We are not asking for any special favours,” Mr Agwu lamented.

He said the indefinite strike would affect operations at all Addax Petroleum offshore and onshore locations in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Asaba, Warri, and Izombe, where workers have since withdrawn their services in compliance with the union directives.

In a memo by the PENGASSAN to the MD of Addax, Messrs Ogiewonyi and Agwu said the workers had declared an industrial dispute with the management by withdrawing their services “effective April 16, 2018 at 06.00hrs.”

The union leaders said the decision to call their members out on strike followed the refusal of Addax Petroleum to address the burning issues raised in its March 12, 2018 letter within the time frame indicated.

“The issues were reiterated by the Zonal Council of the Union on March 28, 2018. We notified management of the complete withdrawal of services of members effective 06.00hrs on Monday, April 16, 2018 for an indefinite time period. It is high time the culture of contempt and disdain for the association was stopped,” they said.

PREMIUM TIMES got in touch with the company’s General Manager, External & Government Affairs, Dorothy Atake, for official reaction to the workers’ strike.

However, despite that Truecaller application on the telephone confirmed her two names, she denied her identity.

After the reporter introduced himself, Ms Atake responded: “Yes, what is it that you want to talk about? I am in a hurry. I’m entering a meeting.”

When the reporter answered with seeking the company’s response to the controversy, Ms Atake said:

“There is no reaction. I don’t know where Dorothy Atake is. I will send you another number you will call now. This is a common/general line.”

Subsequent calls to the same number were rejected. Ms Atake did not also send the number she promised at the time of this publication.

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