Akwa Ibom: 1,650 ExxonMobil contractors protest non-payment of 4 years entitlements

No fewer than 1,650 workers in National Engineering and Technical Company (NETCO), contractor to ExxonMobil have besieged the multinational oil company in protest for non-payment of their four years entitlements.

They called on the management of ExxonMobil to pay them their entitlements, else they would not leave ExxonMobil premises, saying, “We will stay here as long as they delayed to pay us our entitlements.”

The leader of the group, Mr Udeme Bassey, made this known during their seventh day of protest in Qua Iboe terminal at Mkpanak, Ibeno local government area of Akwa Ibom on Sunday.

“It is ExxonMobil that permits people to come inside its facility and the company supervises the work but when it comes to payments of our entitlements, the company will pay deaf hears to it,” he said.

He said ExxonMobil gave NETCO contract to upgrade cables at the Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT), adding that they were working under the supervision of the multinational oil company.

Bassey said the contract was titled QIT Power Distribution Upgrading Project (QPDUP), in the state.

He further said the workers mainly youths had worked for over four years in the multinational oil company.

According to him, two of their members died during the course of their duties because their work is close to gas flaring at QIT.

“We are working at the flare site where heat is too much which is against safety rules, ExxonMobil will preach this safety but they don’t adhere to it,” Udeme said.

He said the workers had made several attempts to meet with the management of the multinational oil company and Ministry of Environment and Petroleum but it ended in deadlock.

In his remarks, Chief Williams Mkpa, the Chairman of Ibeno local government area of Akwa Ibom, confirmed the blockage by NETCO workers in the multinational oil company.

He however, said the employment of the NETCO workers did not follow due process which makes it very difficult for the workers to get their entitlements.

Mkpa donated N1 million to the protesters but they refused collecting the money.

Responding, Mr Ogechukwu Udeagha, the Manager of Media and Communications of ExxonMobil, acknowledged that he was aware of the blockage.

Udeagha said NNPC/MPN joint venture has no obligation to staff of the third party contractors.

He said ExxonMobil does not involve itself in any contractual agreements, discussions between the parties.

He said, “please refer all further inquires to the contractor company referenced in your inquiry and the relevant government security agencies.

“We remain committed to contributing to the health, safety and economy of our communities,” Udeagha said.

Blueprint correspondent who visited the scene gathered that the workers had kept vigil in blocking the multinational oil company premises for the past seven days.

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