NNPC Drops 500 from its Work­force for Fail­ing Pro­mo­tion Test …

Oil pro­duc­tion, fuel sup­ply, oth­ers threat­ened as unions kick

THISDAY - - FRONT PAGE - Chineme Okafor in Abuja

No fewer than 500 em­ploy­ees are about to be dropped from the pay­roll of the Nige­rian Na­tional Petroleum Cor­po­ra­tion (NNPC) for re­port­edly fail­ing to scale through a manda­tory per­son­nel as­sess­ment and pro­mo­tion ex­am­i­na­tions the cor­po­ra­tion re­cently con­ducted, THISDAY has gath­ered. Very re­li­able sources within the state oil com­pany said the is­sue was al­ready caus­ing dis­quiet in the cor­po­ra­tion. They said this could lead to dis­rup­tion of NNPC op­er­a­tions fol­low­ing threats by work­ers’ unions to re­sist the al­leged sack of the 500 work­ers.

From re­ports, NNPC has since Oc­to­ber 2017 re­mained the sole im­porter and sup­plier of re­fined petroleum prod­ucts in Nige­ria, es­pe­cially petrol which in­de­pen­dent petroleum mar­keters have stayed away from im­port­ing on ac­count of un­favourable pric­ing. On the other hand, Nige­ria’s oil pro­duc­tion has con­tin­ued to im­prove from a 2016 pro­duc­tion dis­rup­tion caused by mil­i­tancy in the Niger Delta.

Sources close to the de­vel­op­ment told THISDAY that trou­ble started when the cor­po­ra­tion con­ducted the pro­mo­tional ex­am­i­na­tions and about 500 of its staff could not pass it. The 500 are re­port­edly not part of the work­ers’ unions – the Nige­ria Union of Petroleum and Nat­u­ral Gas Work­ers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Nat­u­ral Gas Se­nior Staff As­so­ci­a­tion of Nige­ria (PENGASSAN). They were sub­se­quently is­sued no­tices of dis­en­gage­ment, but their is­sue has since been taken up by the two unions, which sources stated have now pledged to re­sist the sack even though it means shut­ting down the op­er­a­tions of the NNPC.

A source who pleaded not be named said, “Some staff wrote pro­mo­tion ex­ams to move places, as it is the case. They are Chief Of­fi­cers and Deputy Gen­eral Man­agers who are in M5 and M6 cadre. Some didn’t pass for the first time and about 500 were asked to leave, and pa­pers in this re­gard were served them.

“Right now, there is a lot of ten­sion be­cause that cat­e­gory of peo­ple af­fected are not part of work­ers’ union.

The cadre in­volved with NUPENG and PENGASSAN are from Chief Of­fi­cers down­wards, yet, the unions are threat­en­ing that in sol­i­dar­ity with them, they will em­bark on ac­tions to sup­port and stop their re­trench­ments.”

The source equally ex­plained that the threat of in­dus­trial ac­tion by the unions will af­fect op­er­a­tions in Nige­ria’s oil sec­tor. He sug­gested that oil pro­duc­tion and down­stream op­er­a­tions, which in­clude petroleum prod­ucts sup­plies and dis­tri­bu­tions, could be im­pacted neg­a­tively by the in­dus­trial ac­tion of the unions. Also, the source noted that some of the af­fected staff had worked with the cor­po­ra­tion for more than 25 years, adding that it is the first time the NNPC would con­duct pro­mo­tional ex­ams and ask staff who failed to meet up to leave its work­force.

Ac­cord­ing to the source, the cur­rent de­ci­sion of the NNPC to lay off work­ers who failed its as­sess­ment was dif­fer­ent from that which the Min­is­ter of State for Petroleum Re­sources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, at­tempted when he was the Group Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the cor­po­ra­tion and wanted to down­size the work­force but was re­sisted by the unions in the cor­po­ra­tion.

When THISDAY con­tacted the Group Gen­eral Man­ager, Pub­lic Af­fairs of the NNPC, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, to com­ment on the is­sue, he said he would get back to the pa­per on the re­quest. But Ughamadu did not get back as at the time of fil­ing this re­port.

In­dus­try ex­perts have fre­quently ques­tioned the vast work­force the NNPC main­tains, which ac­cord­ing to them has con­trib­uted to its poor op­er­a­tional prof­itabil­ity. Their views have equally been sup­ported by re­ports from the cor­po­ra­tion which also sug­gested that the deficits it records from its op­er­a­tions are usu­ally from sub­sidiaries that are rather re­dun­dant.

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