Some 1,444 staff fired from the oil firm Mobil in Akwa Ibom have demanded to be paid N11.4 billion in terminal benefits and compensation.
Previously engaged as contract staff, the workers said they were laid off without entitlements due them, violating a collective bargaining agreement with Mobil.
Spokesman for the group, Godwin Idim, told a press conference in Eket that Mobil reneged in its contractual agreement with the ex-workers and that all efforts to make the company to honour its side of the bargain proved abortive.
He said some of their members have died in the cause of the struggle to get Mobil to the negotiation table in order to remit the outstanding financial claims.
Idim warned that failure to pay them will have consequences on the company and the Niger-Delta region in general considering the emerging security challenges in the region in recent times.
He called on the State Governor Udom Emmanuel to intervene in the matter and save the situation before it takes another dimension.
Meanwhile, counsel to the disengaged workers, Jacob B. Udobang had written to Mobil, reminding them of the need to settle the workers since the agreement it signed with NUPENG and service contract staff regarding their end of service in July 2010 still subsists.
Efforts to speak with the management of Mobil was not successful, but a senior staff of the company who preferred anonymity said the ex workers’ claims are not true.
Our correspondent also obtained a letter written by Mobil on the matter. In the letter dated February 25, 2013 and signed by Mr. Justin Ezeala, Mobil said it had no obligation whether directly or indirectly for payment of terminal benefits and entitlements to the disengaged workers.
“We are not aware of any Labour Contract Collective Bargaining Agreement dated July 1, 2010 or any other date, signed between MPN and representatives of your client. We are not also aware of any meeting on January 21, 2008 or any other date wherein MPN management agreed with representatives of your client on the terms of the said CBA,” the letter read.