Tuesday, 11 March 2014
Niger Delta Militants Threaten To Blow Up Lamnalco Ocean Vessels As Oil Workers’ Strike Looms
A militant group in the Niger Delta that goes by the name of Coastal Revolutionary Forces (CRF) has threatened to blow up ocean-going vessels belonging to Lamnalco Nigeria Limited, an oil services company. The group accused the company’s management of marginalizing its workers who originate from the Niger Delta. In addition, CRF opposes the company’s plan to relocate its headquarters from Port Harcourt to Lagos.
In a statement issued today and signed for CRF by “Generals” Seiya Gbentua and Akpan Edidem, the militant group criticized Lamnalco’s efforts to stampede its staff to join the Nigerian Seafarers Collaborating Unions (NSCU) following a recent verdict by the National Industrial Court and despite a pending notice for stay of execution until a Federal Appeal Court considers an appeal. CRF accused the company of seeking to make its Niger Deltan staff casual workers as a prelude to their sack.
The CRF stressed that Lamnalco Nigeria Limited and its affiliates, Delta Afrique and Smith Lamnalco, cannot force its staff to join an unsolicited union, stating that the forced unionization was part of a plot to “casualize” the workers who had worked towards the company’s growth in its 21 years of existence/operations in the Niger Delta.
“We hereby place the Chairman and Directors of Lamnalco Nigeria Limited on notice to distance [themselves] from the actions of the Managing Director, Mr. Ian David Hugo, by sacking him and hence halting the anti-Niger Delta policies he is made by vested interests to pursue,” the militant group warned. Otherwise, the group stated, the “Board of Directors should be prepared to share the blame with the MD for the coming serial attacks on its vessels from Lagos to Calabar for which we will give no further notice. We would see which is better between human policies and engagement of security forces for your/company protection, when the battle line is finally drawn.”
The CRF statement continued: “Implementing articles of agitation before, during and after the Kaiama Declaration of the Niger Delta over the years, we kept being confronted with the pleadings/reprimands from our brother-employees of Lamnalco Nigeria Limited not to pursue Lamnalco from our waterways. Encounters sometime led to death of our brothers namely Capt James Nwosu and Tonprema (Able Seaman). It is unacceptable that after sacrifices to make Lamnalco grow from humble beginnings to expanded fleet of vessels and contracts both in Nigeria and abroad in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Gabon, the company wishes to pay back with a plot to dump our brothers.”
The group alleged that the Lamnalco management had sponsored the Lagos NIC verdict as a step towards reducing the local/indigenous portion of the firm’s workforce and transfer more jobs to non-Niger Delta interests. CRF warned Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Elf, Total, Shell and other oil companies in business with Lamnalco Nigeria Limited that, unless Mr. Ian David Hugo’s plans were reversed, their further dealings with or investments in Lamnalco and allied companies may go up in smoke.
In another development, NUPENG-PENGASSAN, the main union for oil workers, has threatened to down tools should Lamnalco force workers to join NSCU.
In a statement signed by Isaac Aberare and Bayo Olomoshile, acting general secretary and general secretary respectively of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, the union accused Lamnalco management of courting an industrial crisis by seeking to force its member-staff to join the Nigerian Seafarers Collaborating Unions (NSCU).
NUPENG-PENGASSAN disclosed that an undated circular by Lamnalco’s management sought to stampede its staff to join NSCU. It added that the firm’s attempts to force some of its staff to be inaugurated as executives of the maritime union amounted to “interference,” a breach of the conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
According to NUPENG-PENGASSAN, ILO convention 87 of 1948 in articles (i) and (ii) notes that “Workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to join trade unions of their choice without previous authorization,” adding that “public authorities (government and its agencies) shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof.”
Appealing to Lamnalco to keep the status quo or risk an industrial crisis, NUPENG/PENGASSAN asserted that the firm’s actions violated ILO convention 98 of 1949. It contended that the firm’s management was supporting a rival organization against it. Section 2 of the said convention states that “in particular, acts which are designed to promote the establishment of workers’ organization under the domination of employers or employers’ organization, or to support workers’ organization by financial or other means, with the object of placing such organization under the control of employers’ organizations shall be deemed to constitute acts of interference.”
The joint oil workers association said it would fight to protect the will of Lamnalco staff not to join the NSCU as well as their desire not to have their check-off dues deducted from their salaries in favor of unions under NSCU.