Saturday, October 1Inside Business Africa

Court gives PENGASSAN nod to picket BakerHughes oil firm

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) last Thursday, won a court judgement against an oil firm, BakerHughes Nigeria, which attempted to stop the union from picketing it over alleged anti-labour practices.

BakerHughes Company Limited, which failed in her attempt to secure an interlocutory injunction to stop the picketing of her offices in Nigeria, had filed a lawsuit with number NICN/LA/398/2020 against PENGASSAN at the National Industrial Court (NIC) in Lagos.

The judge, Hon. Justice (Mrs.) Ama Oji of court 8, while delivering the court ruling on the 26th of November 2020, affirmed that the ongoing picketing by PENGASSAN in the operations facilities of BakerHughes was peaceful and well managed.

Noting by all indication that there was no proof to the contrary, stated that picketing, when peacefully conducted is the right of employees in furtherance of trade dispute.

She alleged that the counsel representing the company, from the law firm of Jackson Etti and Edu, misinformed the court by acclaiming that there was no dispute between parties before the trade union commenced the industrial action.

The judge, however, stated that it was clear that there were clearly several issues between the company and PENGASSAN that led to the industrial action.

Recall that PENGASSAN had picketed the firm over alleged anti-labour practices, where it exposed the firm’s disregard for Nigeria’s labour laws as it locked out about 64 employees of the organisation, including members of the union.

PENGASSAN, in a statement, said the oil service company refused to align with the directives of the Ministry of Labour and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR).

The union alleged that the oil firm, headed by Francis Oganya, failed to act in compliance with directives of regulatory agencies and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

PENGASSAN alleged that the company, which failed to pay employees what was due to them after the merger of BakerHughes and General Electric, also refused to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the union, even after several attempts by the union to bring the company to the table.According to the statement, “We are reliably informed that the company has always shown an anti-labour posture to employees before and after the rebirth of PENGASSAN in the company since 2016.

“We are also informed that about 300 employees of the company who were made redundant without severance benefits and were released before June 2016 have filed a joint suit against the company to seek redress in this regard. The lawsuit is currently on at the NICN in Port Harcourt.

“The effort of the company to decimate the association in the company, the management of the company wrote a petition against union representative to the commissioner of Police River state command in 2016 alleging that the union leaders kidnapping two people in Port Harcourt and committed other unsubstantiated criminal activities and the union has taken this up against the company as an attempt to destroy the reputation of the association and also the union executives that were accused of this criminal acts.”

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