The National Engineering and Technical Company (NETCO) contract workers to ExxonMobil, has turned the multinational oil company facility to prayer mountain in Akwa Ibom state.
This was disclosed by the leader of the protesters, Mr Udeme Bassey, while speaking with Journalists at Mkpanak in Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT) main gate where the workers stage their protest in Ibeno Local Government Area yesterday.
It would be recalled that NETCO workers are protesting the non-payment of their entitlements which led to the protesting workers laying siege at ExxonMobil facility.
He explained that the protesting workers numbering over 300 were in spiritual temperament praying that God intervenes in their plight. “we started prayers from nine in the morning to midday”.
Bassey said that the non-payment of their entitlements has caused untold hardship, noting that the multinational oil company has hitherto refused to pay them their benefits notwithstanding the 11-day protest.
Bassey alleged that ExxonMobil declined issuing appointment letters to the over 1,650 workers engaged in the QIT Power Distribution Upgrade Project, (QPDUP).
“Trouble started when they demanded for appointment letter from NETCO to know the terms of contract stating salary and other incentives but the company instead of addressing the concern of community workers resolved instead to victimise the workers by sacking them at will.
“They refuse to deal with the issue but resorted to playing pranks on them by removing those who demand to know the condition of the workers as stated in the terms of contract,” he said.
He explained that the subcontractors did not demonstrate compliance with the requirements of Staffing Plan and Conditions of Service, adding that it is a standard norm to settle industrial disputes amicably between contending parties.
According to him, to promote enabling environment and foster industrial harmony between the company and host community, a reasonable payment offer like terminal payoff to workers in the community should be made.
“The company, contractors/subcontractors should strategise measures for corrective action to prevent recurrence of similar or future disruptions in the community.
“We learnt they want to come and commission the project and we decided to come out and demand for our benefits.
“They have pushed us to the wall but we don’t want to take the law into our hands. All what we are demanding is our payoff as anything on the contrary will not be accepted by us,” Bassey said.
“We have been subjected to inhuman treatment by NETCO and ExxonMobil. As we are talking, some of our people are still working inside QIT to complete the project while they refuse to hearken to our plea to pay us our money.
“They told us that they will pay us at the end of the project but today make it 11 days that we have demanded for our payoff but none of ExxonMobil management or NETCO have come out to address us.
He appealed to Akwa Ibom Government to come to their aid stressing, “They must pay all our benefits or else we will not vacate the entrance of the multinational oil company main gate.”