The United States oil major, ExxonMobil, has ramped up the number of sacked workers in its Nigeria’s operation to 339, as it fired additional 89 workers in a gale of retrenchment it started last year. The company had earlier fired 250 between January and November 2016.
Sixty regular workers and 29 contract workers, a senior staff of the company said after his anonymity was assured, were affected in the latest retrenchment. The retrenchment, in Mkpanak in the Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, he said, involved mainly workers at the company’s Qua Iboe Terminal.
Spokesperson for ExxonMobil, Ogochukwu Uduagha, did not pick calls to his phone seeking his reaction to the news.
He did not also respond to a text message sent to him as at the time of filing this report. The source, however, added that the retrenchment gale blowing in the country may sweep away more workers. More staff, he said, might be shown the exit door in the next two months due to many issues, chief of which is the oil price rout and need to right size in a bid to remain relevant in the industry. The retrenched workers, he maintained, had been paid their terminal benefits running into millions of naira. He added that the amount paid was “commensurate with the number of years put in by each of the affected workers. “The department mostly affected include public affairs, general services and logistics.”
A report by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) quoted one of the retrenched workers, Mr. Nsikak Ekwere, to have said that he still “had eight more years to work with the company, but was surprised to see his name among the retrenched workers.” Nkwere, the NAN report added, blamed the retrenchment on the current economic situation in Nigeria, saying that he would make good use of his terminal benefits to create employment for himself.
ExxonMobil’s corporate head office in Lagos, it would be recalled, was shut down by angry workers last December. The workers were protesting the sack of 250 workers laid off by the company between January and November last year. International Oil Companies (IOCs) and their local counterparts in Nigeria have resorted to laying-off workers since 2015 when the oil price nosedived from about $140 per barrel to below $40 per barrel.
They resorted to downsizing as a part of bigger measures for them to remain in business. Manager, Media and Communications of ExxonMobil, Oge Udeagha, however denied that the company sacked 89 workers.
“I can confirm that there is no truth whatsoever to that claim,” he said in a terse text message to New Telegraph. Meanwhile, oil prices rose more than one dollar a barrel yesterday after OPEC said it was sticking to its agreement to cut production and hoped compliance with the deal would be even higher.
OPEC’s Secretary General, Mohammad Barkindo, told an industry conference in London that January data showed conformity from participating OPEC nations with output curbs above 90 per cent and oil inventories would decline further this year. “All countries involved remain resolute in the determination to achieve a higher level of conformity,” Barkindo said.
Benchmark Brent crude oil jumped $1.13 a barrel to a high $57.20 by 1410 GMT yesterday.