NLNG Train 7 Workers Protest Over Harsh Working Conditions, Disrupt Operations
Fred Omotara, Lagos
Workers of Daewoo Engineering and Construction Nigeria Limited, contractor to the SCD JV (Saipem Chiyoda) of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) have crippled operations of the Train 7 project of the NLNG following an ongoing industrial action over harsh working conditions.
Speaking with newsmen in Bonny, President General of the National Association of Plant Operators (NAPO), Harold Benstowe said the workers won’t call off the strike if the NLNG does not call it’s contractor, Daewoo Engineering and Construction Nigeria Limited to order.
According to Benstowe, the protest was staged against the NLNG after the expiration of a 48 hours ultimatum to call their contractor, Daewoo Nigeria Limited to order by acceding to the demands of the workers.
He said that the workers were protesting the violation of their rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, illegal deductions from their salaries without their consent and arbitrary dismissal of staffs without recourse to extant procedures for resolving labour issues.
He stated that the Nigerian labour laws says that “an employer must not dismiss any worker due to his association with the trade union and the activities of the union”, stating that NAPO was an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and as such, its officials and members were entitled to their rights and privileges guaranteed by Section 40 of the Nigerian Constitution and extant labour laws.
The NAPO President General called on the Managing Director of NLNG, Dr Philip Mshelbila to call his Train 7 project contractors, Daewoo E & C Nigeria Limited to reverse the dismissals of staffs who were sacked because of their membership of the trade union.
“The NLNG should call Daewoo to order. All those already dismissed should be recalled. The NLNG should also show proof that nobody will be victimised for the reason of joining a trade union that the workers have chosen. All monies deducted from workers salaries too should be efunded.
“Nigeria LNG must speak to end this apartheid system where colour and race determine the wages of workers participating in the Nigerian LNG construction and maintenance workforce,” Benstowe told journalists.
The workers who were seen carrying placards with inscriptions such as “NAPO Says NO To Monkey Dey Work Bamboo Dey Chop System”, “NAPO Has Come To Stay”, “We Are Peaceful In Our Demands”, “We Refuse To Be Intimidated”, amongst others blocked the access road to the NLNG’s Industrial Area (IA), thus dtopping staff of the NLNG and those of other companies from resuming to work.
Though the protest was peaceful, troops drawn from the 146 Battalion of the Nigerian Army, operatives of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) Bonny and Finima Divisions and C4i were on site to ensure there was no breakdown of law and order.