Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Egi Professionals Threaten Showdown With Total Over Unemployment

By Friday Agi
Skilled workers and artisans of Egi origin under the umbrella  of Egi Association of Skilled Professionals (E.A.S.P) in Egi clan of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area of Rivers state have decried their frequent denial of employment opportunities by the French Multinational, Total Exploration and Production, Nigeria Limited (TEPNL) and its contracting firms operating in Egi  land. 

To this end, the association has issued a 9-point charter of demands to Total as part of measures to redress the anomalous situation.
In a press statement issued in Port Harcourt and jointly signed by the president of the association, Comrade Ejike G. Ojum, the secretary, Comrade Promise Ikeagwu and the Public Relations Officer, Comrade Dickson Ikezi, the workers called on the management of Total E & P Nigeria Limited to commence immediate negotiation with the association in order to address their demands.

The association also threatened a show down with Total if the option of dialogue is not explored in the shortest possible time.  The statement read inter alia, “The Egi Association of Skilled Professionals does not believe in protests and confrontation to press home their demands.  However, we wish to state categorically that these options will be explored in the shortest possible time if the parties involved do not see the need for dialogue and peaceful resolution of our demands.  A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.”

The demands of the skilled workers among other things are, immediate commencement of negotiation with the association by Total to address the areas of marginalisation, directing all skilled employment quota to the association for distribution, and allowing all skills Acquisition training opportunities to be handled by their nominees.

Others include allowing the association to handle all negotiations regarding conditions of service for skilled workers in projects sites and production departments; co-operating with the task force of the association to actualize its objectives, equal treatment with other organized groups in Egiland; providing access ID cards for its executive members and integrating the association in all stakeholders meetings with Total. According to them, this will afford them the opportunity to protect the interest of their members as applicable to other associations in Egiland.

The association recalled, with tears, the painful denial of employment by Total in collaboration with some Egi anti-development stakeholders.  The body maintained that such denial does not only violate the provision of the local content act of the federal government, but also negates the promotion of indigenous manpower to drive development in host communities.

The statement also added that frantic efforts to secure recognition for the body in the last five years were frustrated on the premise that the Association was not registered, therefore does not exist.
The association lamented that its member were denied colossal employment opportunities in the areas of welding, rigging, fitting, mechanics and others during the boom of OML 58 Upgrade project in Egiland.

It recalled with sadness that employment meant for Egi professionals in the technical areas were mindlessly sold to non-indigenes by some greedy and unpatriotic Egi stakeholders, therefore creating unemployment and chaos in Egi land.  The statement described the situation as anti-development and maladministration by both Total and Egi stakeholders, by their failure to train Egi sons and daughters and thus abandoning them to their fate; worst of all, deny them employment in their home land.

They said, Egi indigenes watched helplessly as workers from distant places were recruited and transported to and from flow stations operated in Egi land.

The Egi Association of skilled professionals (E.A.S.P) is an organized body of skilled professionals and artisans of Egi origin.  In the meantime, the membership ranges from electrical cum instruments association, operators, surveyors, mechanics, millwrights, pipe grinders, erectors, riggers and safety professionals associations.  Others are Non-Destructive Test Association, painters, sandblasters, wrappers, drivers, caterers and civil skilled workers associations founded in 2008. The body is properly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission, with registration number IT/NO/55647

At present, it has membership strength of over 500 skilled workers who are unemployed in Egi land despite the proliferation of oil and gas contracting firms in the area.  This makes the situation a paradox where the land is rich but the people are impoverished and disempowered.

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