Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC) and 29 ex-casual workers of the Corporation are at loggerhead over N4 billion severance package.
The ex-workers who were relieved of their jobs after working for the corporation as casual staff for hearts are seeking for the interventions of human right activists and other well meaning Nigerians to help them collect their N4 billion.
But NNPC management disagreed with their claims and advised them to go to court.
While expressing their frustration and haplessness, ex-workers said the Corporation management asked them to go to court, knowing fully well that they don’t have the financial muscle to hire a lawyer.
Speaking with The Nation at the weekend in Abuja, the spokesman and also leader of the the disengaged causal workers of NNPC, Mr. Eze Ene and his assistant Okolo Barnabas, said they lack the means to engage lawyers to sue NNPC.
Asked to tell the corporation’s part of the story on phone, the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu told The Nation that there is nothing like that nomenclature ‘casual staff’ in NNPC.
He described them as daily paid workers that NNPC must have engaged their services that should ordinarily leave when there was no need for their service.
The NNPC spokesman however advised that “if you are making claims and assuming that there was something like that in NNPC and you believe that NNPC engaged your services and you were not paid, you go to court. It is as simple as that.”
The disengaged staff however submitted that “we don’t have the means to engage lawyers and that is why we are calling on human right lawyers to come and help us and if there is anywhere we are found guilty the law should take its course. We don’t have money to take them to court. They have money. They are even saying they will be happy if we will go to court so that they will frustrate it.”
The spokesman recalled that NNPC engaged them as casual staff in 1998 for its present day corporate headquarters in Abuja, while it was still operating from Lagos.
According to them, “the then Group Admin Service department engaged some casual workers here in Abuja for them to arrange documents in the different departments.
They also engaged people to receive furniture and equipment from suppliers like Julius Berger. Some of us were engaged and put in charge of partitioning. But finally in 2000 they resumed in Abuja. In June 2000 they gave us to whom it may concern and called us casual staff under group services admin of NNPC.”
They said following the agitation of some of the senior casual workers NNPC regularized their appointments as contract and permanent staff in 2004.
The group said that suddenly in 2005, NNPC started saying that it had no causal staff but daily paid workers while we were causal workers. They stressed that the various departments were calling them casual staff in their memo and not daily paid workers.
Consequently in 2009, the corporation was already owing the staff for nine months till date they have not been paid.
Lamenting, Ene said “They should pay us off for over 15 years because now we don’t know where to start life. In the existence of NNPC no casual staff has been set off without conversion.”