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…as recession bites harder

  • Petrol stations put up for sale
  • 40% of workers may lose jobs – Experts

Many of Nigeria’s oil and gas companies may soon reduce their staff strength by about 40 per cent as the fortunes of the operators continue to nosedive, investigations by The Point have revealed.

With this situation, the unemployment rate may swell further, thus frustrating the efforts of the Federal Government at curbing the increasing rate of unemployment.

This also indicates that Government may spend more than N125 billion every month for the unemployed, when it begins the payment of the N5,000 unemployment benefit.

A former staff of ASCON Oil Company, one of the operators in the industry, who pleaded anonymity, told The Point that about 45 of the company’s employees were invited for a meeting with the top management staff on October 29, 2015.

According to the widow and mother of four, shortly after the meeting, they were all served letters indicating that they had been sacked with immediate effect. Aside from the disengagement, the source added that the sacked employees were not given the reason behind the company’s action and they were not also paid two months’ severance package as stated in the staff handbook.

“It is painful that I can be sacked without notice or specific reason after serving the company for about a decade. I know that the industry has been through hardship since last year when the price of crude oil began to nosedive, but that does not mean the company should not pay us,” she lamented.

Another victim of the sack gale, an ex-staff of Shell, said he was sacked a few weeks after his wedding. Unlike the ASCON worker, the disengaged Shell worker, who simply identified himself as Tunde, said he received part of his severance package before he was sacked and got the balance a few weeks after.

Though he agreed with the multinational oil and gas operator that there was a need to ‘rightsize’ owing to pressure from the falling price of crude oil, he argued that it should not have affected the staff that joined the company a few years ago.

“The reason may be genuine but the timing was wrong, because it affected me psychologically. I started the job about two years ago only to be dismissed now without considering the impact on my family,” he complained.

Though, Total Nigeria has not sacked any of its employees since last year except those indicted for financial misappropriation, The Point found that the company had introduced austerity measures and suspended further promotion of staff for now.

Other austerity measures are the suspension of merit increment, which is a bonus issued to staff after a successful appraisal; slashing overtime and taxi claims and declaration of zero tolerance on wastage of printing papers.

“There are rumours that anyone that frowns at the measures or flout them may be sacked. Before now, our overtime and taxi claims were expressly approved and paid but now, the claims are slashed by 50 per cent or more. These are signs that the dwindling fortunes of the sector is taking a toll on the company,” he said.

‘MORE WORKERS TO LOSE JOBS’

Over 10,000 oil workers around the world are waiting to be sacked as a result of the drop in oil prices and Nigerians are not isolated as this is taking a toll on the firms’ profitability.

For instance, Chevron Corporation is expected to lay off 7,000 staff worldwide in addition to the 1,500 it announced early this year. Shell, according to experts, plans to sack 1,000 staff and that is different from the 6,500 it announced in the first quarter. Although the two multinationals did not give a breakdown of how many

For the concluding part of this story and others, grab your copy of The Point from your nearest vendor

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