ExxonMobil Corporation on Wednesday denied reports that it has embarked on fresh retrenchment exercise of 89 additional workers in its workforce.
Ogechukwu Udeagha, ExxonMobil’s Media and Communications Manager, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that no retrenchment exercise took place at the company.
“I can assure you that there is absolutely no truth to the claim,” he told our correspondent Wednesday afternoon.
Earlier on Tuesday, the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, had reported that a fresh retrenchment exercise that allegedly affected 60 regular workers and 29 contract staff was carried out at the company’s Qua Iboe Terminal in Akwa Ibom State.
But the company’s spokesperson, Mr. Udeagha, said the report is mischievous and untrue.
“The journalist is just being mischievous,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
Similarly, Paul Eboigbe, the Chairman of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, ExxonMobil branch, told our correspondent that the report is not true.
“To the best of my knowledge, that is not true,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, had in December 2016 directed oil companies operating in the country to suspend all actions aimed at reducing their workforce, to stem the crisis in the industry.
“We have asked the oil companies to suspend all actions geared towards reduction of staffing until we have taken a first quarter analysis of the impact of what government has done to reverse the trend in the industry,” Mr. Kachikwu had said.
The Minister had equally maintained that he was optimistic that efforts by government, with the launch of a new funding mechanism for the joint venture operations, would boost the momentum of operations in the industry.
Mr. Kachikwu was reacting to the crisis rocking the petroleum industry following threats by unions to embark on strike and shut down international oil companies, IOCs.
Earlier, the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and PENGASSAN had on October 26, 2016 threatened to go on strike over alleged plans by the IOCs to sack 3,000 of their members.
The unions had also issued a 21-day ultimatum to the federal government calling for a halt to the sacking of their members by the IOCs.
Similarly, aggrieved workers of ExxonMobil had in December 2016 shut down the company’s corporate head office in Lagos in protest over the attempt by the company to sack over 150 workers.
The protesting workers had accused the company of flagrant violation of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act by deploying expatriates to take over jobs for which there is local capacity.
The Chairman of the ExxonMobil Branch of PENGASSAN, Mr. Eboigbe, who confirmed the closure of the company’s Lagos office, had accused the management of sacking its members, while negotiations were still ongoing.
But in a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday, Mr. Eboigbe said there was no new case of retrenchment of staff at the company.
“The retrenchment exercise the company embarked upon last year is still lingering; the union is still resisting it,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
“Maybe the report is referring to the old exercise…and even, although they are at home, those affected in the last exercise are still on the company’s payroll.
“So, to the best of my knowledge, there is no new case of retrenchment,” he added.