Senior oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) wednesday sealed the offices of General Electric in Lagos and Port Harcourt for several hours over the company’s indebtedness to Arco Group.
Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC) joint venture had awarded a multi-million dollar maintenance service contract for gas turbines and related equipment for OB/OB, Ebocha and Kwale Gas plants in Delta State to GE International Operations Nigeria (GEION) Limited, with Arco Petrochemical Limited as local partner.
However, following the intervention of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, GE was said to have made a commitment to issue procurement invoice, which would mature in 30 days to Arco if the indigenous firm showed evidence that it had demobilised from the site.
With the strong commitment of GE to pay the debts, Arco was said to have withdrawn in January 2017 but GE allegedly failed to fulfill its own part of the bargain in line with the agreement reached with Ngige.
THISDAY gathered that the refusal of GE to pay Arco prompted the intervention of PENGASSAN to protect the interest of the indigenous firm and its workers who are all members of the union.
The members of the Lagos Zone of the union, who picketed the company’s office in Lagos, gathered at 7a.m. yesterday to seal the Lagos office of GE, which is located in Mansard Place at Bishop Aboyade Cole Street in Victoria Island.
The placard-carrying protesters, who insisted the GE’s management should come and address them, prevented the company’s workers from resuming work as they blocked the entrance with their union vehicles, preventing workers from entering or leaving the premises.
THISDAY who monitored the protest, observed that apart from cleaners and security guards, who were already in the office before the protesting workers arrived, no other staff of GE was allowed entry by the protesters.
Addressing the union members, the Lagos Zonal Chairman of PENGASSAN, Abel Agarin, said the refusal of GE to pay Arco had inflicted hardships on both the company and its staff, with eight of the workers bed-ridden in Port Harcourt.
According to him, Arco workers are being owed five months salaries as the company cannot pay its staff as a result of the huge debt owed the company by GE.
“GE is not a member of PENGASSAN and none of their workers is our member. But Arco is our member and the workers also belong to the association. Ngige asked GE to pay and in the last meeting with the minister, GE promised to give Arco procurement invoice that would mature within 30 days if Arco showed evidence that it has demobilised from the site. Arco has demobilised since January but GE has refused to pay. We sent letters to GE and also requested for a meeting but they ignored us. GE made a commitment before a minister but they feel that they can do anything in Nigeria and get away with it because they are an international company. For five months, Arco has not paid its workers,” Agarin explained.topics from