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OML 42: Shell, Neconde Explain Sacking of 115 Employees

By Ejiofor Alike

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Neconde Energy Limited have explained the circumstances that led to the disengagement of 115 ex-staff members of SPDC from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 42, saying that the exercise followed due process.

THISDAY reported that a group, which identified itself as Delta Rights had accused Neconde Energy of illegally terminating the appointments of the affected workers.

This action, according to the group, had led to the death one of the workers, Mr. Dan Anyanwu, “who slumped and died as a result of the psychological and mental trauma, he was subjected to from the loss of his job.”

But in separate statements yesterday, SPDC stated that it followed due process in disengaging the workers after it sold OML 42, while Neconde Energy clarified that it disengaged the affected staff because it was no longer the operator of the oil block.

Neconde further disclosed that in line with the Sales Purchase Agreement (SPA) drawn between it and SPDC at the time of acquisition of OML 42, which assumed Neconde Energy as the operator of OML 42, the company had initially inherited the 115 staff and started work with them in January 2012.

The SPA also provided that if the services of the 115 staff were not required in less than two years into their service with Neconde Energy that Neconde was liable to pay for the staff loss of office up to a maximum of two years.

The company however disclosed that by a new decision of the Federal Government, NPDC, a subsidiary of the NNPC assumed operatorship of OML 42 in February 2012 and Neconde became a non-operating partner in the OML 42 Joint Venture.

Neconde stated that being a non-operator, its business model radically changed especially in regard to the 115 ex-SPDC staff members, adding that as a non-operator, it had no vacancies to absorb the affected staff.

“As a consequence Neconde appealed to the SPDC partners to revisit the issue of the 115 employees. An agreement was reached with Shell who accepted to pay the loss of office for the ex-SPDC staff. Neconde who had been paying the salaries of 115 employees, agreed to continue the payments through March 2012,” said the statement.

The company stated that after the loss of office had been paid by Shell and the first quarter salaries paid by Neconde, the employees should pursue employment with  the new OML 42 operator, NPDC or any other company.

In a separate statement, Shell’s Media Relations Manager, Mr. Tony Okonedo, stated that in line with Shell’s corporate policy, the company followed due process in the disengagement of the affected workers, who were later offered employment by Neconde.

He stated that the disengagement was as a result of Shell’s divestment in OML 42, adding that the company “fully discharged all outstanding commitments to each impacted staff, including loss of office payments and standard redundancy elements – pension in annuity or lump sum as applicable”.

“SPDC regrets the death of one of its former employees and sympathises with the family, but does not accept that this was connected with recent events as alleged. We do not discuss individual health issues out of respect for the rights to privacy for the individual,” he said.

Okonedo referred further enquires on the matter to either Neconde or NPDC, saying that his company could not respond to enquiries regarding their decisions on the former employees.

“We regard the campaign being run by Delta Rights as being both misdirected and mischievous. It contains allegations that we categorically deny, and threats that we will not respond to,” he added.

SOURCE

RESPONSE BY DELTA RIGHTS GROUP

Delta Rights Group’s REJOINDER to the lies peddled by SHELL and NECONDE in explaining the sack of the NECONDE 115:

Before we start, let us explain that whistle-blowing is an international best practice. Whistle-blowing refers to the act of revealing wrongdoing within an Organization. This helps to check the wrongdoing, investigate it, punish/reward individuals and to also ensure that employees learn from it, thus, minimizing it from happening again. It is best practice to blow the whistle if one suspects that something is wrong. Most Organizations have a ’Whistle-blowing Policy’ which employees use from time to time, including SHELL, CHEVRON, MOBIL, NECONDE, etc. So, the accusation of mischievous and misdirected campaign on Delta Rights Group by SHELL is surprising.

With that said, time to address the lies told by NECONDE and SHELL:

NECONDE claimed to have paid Jan to March salaries. There are two lies here – Firstly, SHELL claimed to have paid January and February Salaries in a mail to facilitate the sale of another OML. Secondly, till date, March salary hasn’t been paid by either SHELL or NECONDE.

We are also attaching a Letter signed by Messr Odike (copied) where he insisted on neconde 115 signing the Letter of Cessation of Employment with NECONDE before their March salaries will be paid.

Good Corporate Organizations should strive to quickly resolve issues instead of lying to cover up. Attached is a Letter from SHELL claiming to have paid the salaries of NECONDE staff for January and February. Whereas, NECONDE Claimed to have paid. Lots of discrepancies and lies told by SHELL and NECONDE.

SHELL is in the process of divesting OML26, and as usual, they are telling lies, using tricks and deceit to push through the sale, assets and people, who in the future would be like the NECONDE 115. They would be left high and dry.

Also, I can give you contacts of some of the NECONDE 115, and let them print out their Bank Statements and scan to you, you will see that they haven’t been paid March Salaries, and today is April 24 (Whereas in SHELL, SHELL staff have been paid March and April salaries).

Imagine the sudden fall from grace to grass for the NECONDE 115. Why won’t Daniel Anyanwu slump and die? The trauma was just too much for him to handle, imagine being paid on time for almost 20+ years and then made to pass through this trauma.

Also attached is another Letter from NECONDE blackmailing the personnel to sign a Letter of Cessation of Employment before they will be paid their March salaries. A few staff signed and the critical-mass have refused to sign, hence, The Delta Rights Group was then contacted by some of the staff to fight their case and tell the world about the oppression they are suffering in the hands of SHELL and NECONDE. As at the last count, 14 have signed out of 114 (Initially 115, now 114 due to the death of Mr. Daniel Anyanwu), this clearly shows that the majority of the personnel are against the blackmail and arm-twisting been perpetrated by NECONDE.

To show how irresponsible and unfeeling NECONDE Management is, they are tying the Death Benefit which is to be paid to Mr. Daniel Anyanwu’s grieving and suffering family to the signing of the Letter of Cessation by the NECONDE 115. This is pathetic and does not show respect for the dead. Let all of them at SHELL and NECONDE riding in their high horses remember that we will all die one day. From dust to dust…, says the Holy Book.

See attached below a mail The Delta Rights Group sent to NECONDE/SHELL about the issue of the non-payment of Mr. Daniel Anyanwu’s Death Benefit and March Salaries to the NECONDE 115) to further expose the lies told by SHELL and NECONDE in their Rejoinder to our earlier Publication.

The Late Mr. Anyanwu worked in SHELL for more than 25years and was into his mid fifties, he did not slump and die 10 years ago, neither did he die 5 years ago or 2 years ago or even in January of this year, but he slumped and died after he was sacked by NECONDE. What a coincidence!!! Let us respect the dead, and not overflog this issue, may his soul rest in peace.

Ex-SHELL Staff (now NECONDE 115) were shortchanged by SHELL when paying them their Terminal Benefits, all in the name of confidential HR information. This handshake is extending beyond the elbow, and SHELL will have to show how it arrived at what it paid, the basis of payment, and subsequently, pay the shortfall to all the staff in due time.

It will surprise you to know that more than 60% of the NECONDE 115 are from the Niger-Delta (Ijaw, Itsekiri, Urhobo, Isoko, Delta Ibo, etc). The Niger Delta is where Nigeria gets her resources from. Instead of making the people prosperous, SHELL is degrading the environment with her activities, flaring gas and contributing to global warming/Ozone layer depletion and now, they are laying-off indigenes of the Niger-Delta, and employing people from other Regions. We have borne this oppression for too long, and we are saying

“This has to stop NOW!!!!!!”

Will you put people’s lives (families, extended families, relations, etc) at risk and impoverish them because the business model changed radically? There should be concessions; it should always be about ‘give and take’. That way, it ends up being a ‘Win/Win’ situation for all the parties involved. At the moment, it is a ‘Win/Lose’ situation because SHELL and NECONDE are winning, while the NECONDE 115 are losing.

With all these insensitivities shown, we will have to drag SHELL/NECONDE to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to explain their complicity in the death of Mr. Daniel Anyanwu; pay appropriate Compensation to the NECONDE 115 for the physical, psychological, mental trauma SHELL/NECONDE has let them pass through; SHELL should explain its roles in further degrading the environment and causing Global Warming by her operations, continuous Gas flaring, etc

Sincerely,

Delta Rights Group

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