5th June, 2012
Chief Ekpu Johnson, the President-General of Ekid Peoples Union in Eket, Akwa Ibom, says the sack of 1,000 workers at the Qua Iboe oil fields has worsened unemployment in the area.
Johnson told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Eket on Monday that the massive sack of junior workers drawn from Mobil’s host communities was ill-advised.
He said that Mobil was expected to provide employment to communities where it operated as part of its social obligations to reduce the menace of youth unemployment and restiveness.
Johnson regretted that the oil firm was downsizing its local workforce and reducing the number of personnel used by its service contractors to execute jobs.
The sacked workers had turned back bus loads of oil workers en route the terminal on Thursday to protest their sack without benefits.
The Qua Iboe Terminal building, which houses offices and crude processing facilities, remained under locks while the protest lasted between 4 a.m and 10 p.m last Thursday (May 31).
Mobil, an affiliate of ExxonMobil, a US energy firm, outsources most of its labour needs to contractors who recruited unskilled and semi skilled workers on its behalf from its host communities.
The community leader said the plight of the disengaged workers had raised concerns within the communities and urged the oil firm to abide by an agreement it reached with the workers’ representative in 2007.
“It is obvious that they reserve the right to hire and fire, but when you fire someone, you fulfil your obligations and moreover these categories of workers are part of their social obligations to our communities.
“It is unfortunate that Mobil restructured its terms of labour contract in its cost cutting measures without thinking of the social problems it would cause in the communities, only to pass the blame on the contractors.”
Johnson said it was a show of insensitivity to pass the bulk to contractors who were hired to do the firm’s bidding.
“Who are the contractors working for,” he asked.
NAN reports that Mobil had, in a statement on the workers’ protest made available to NAN, said that its operations were not affected.
“Mobil Producing Nigeria(MPN), operator of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)/MPN Joint Venture, confirmed that a group of third party contractors’ personnel staged a protest on the road leading to its Qua Iboe Terminal, Akwa Ibom.
“There was no disruption to production,” the oil firm stated.