A top oil union official in Nigeria has called for the dismissal of Chevron Nigeria Ltd. Managing Director Jay Pryor, alleging he failed to resolve disputes around the merger of Chevron and Texaco.
"After 21 days, we will move into usual trade union activities which might lead to a national strike action," Kenneth Narebor, General Secretary of the Pengassan union, said on Sunday. The 21-day deadline begins Monday, he said. Narebor blamed Pryor for the protracted dispute between Pengassan and the management of ChevronTexaco, the new enterprise formed by the merger. A Chevron spokesman in Lagos, Sola Omole said he couldn't comment on Pengassan's allegations against Pryor for legal reasons.
The union has challenged what it calls unfair conditions under which its members from Texaco Overseas Petroleum Company of Nigeria, or Topcon, were absorbed into the new company. According to Narebor, some of the members from Topcon were demoted as a result of the merger. Also, he said, the members were denied the right of choice to opt out, based on the collective agreement they had with their previous employer. Narebor said that since the dispute has lingered for so long, it means that Pryor, who assumed duties in Nigeria on Feb. 1, 2002, "hasn't handled the negations properly." "Since the MD of Chevron (Nigeria) had failed to resolve it, we feel he is not handling the case properly and should be recalled," Narebor said.
Complaints have trailed the mergers between the parent companies of oil companies operating in Nigeria. Criticisms leveled against such mergers include their failure to comply with regulations on business registration in Nigeria, and breach of collective agreements previously reached between workers and the separate companies. An official of the Department of Petroleum Resources, regulator of the oil industry, recently said despite the mergers, the DPR still treated the companies as separate entities. "We still treat them as separate entities. The fact that the mergers took place between their parent companies does not make it effective in Nigeria," said the DPR official.
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