Ghana: Schlumberger Withdraws Workers’ Suspension Letters

Schlumberger workers at a recent protest

Credible information available to has it that management of Schlumberger, an international oil and gas service provider operating in Ghana’s upstream sector, has withdrawn letters it issued to several staff to go home on 12 months’ suspension without pay.

The decision to withdraw the ‘disingenuous’ letters follows a meeting between management of Schlumberger and the workers’ union.

The company, in May this year, issued letters to several staff to go home for a period of 12 months without salary, claiming that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which has impacted global economy and slowed activities in the upstream sector, had affected its operations and finances.

However, the company’s action was vehemently opposed by the workers who accused management of abusing their rights.

The General Transport Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union, a mother union of the workers, petitioned the Ministry of Energy and copied the Labour Commission and Petroleum Commission to mediate the matter.

“Management served us letters last month to negotiate on a redundancy package. We met to negotiate, but after the third sitting of negotiations, management started becoming recalcitrant and also started issuing out unlawful letters of suspended employment without pay for one year to members. Some of the conditions in the letter are so appalling. So all we are trying to make management aware is that when we are on the negotiation table, you do not do such things. The moment you start doing such things, then, you’re putting us under duress to accept something that is not right. We have an MoU signed with management in 2016, which I took my time to read the document to management so that it would guide all of us in our negotiations.

“They said that they had heard, but instead of paying us our four months’ consolidated salaries, they are choosing to pay us something around 40 percent of that. The union, including the national [union], rejected it since that cut is in breach of the MOU.

“When we asked why they are trying to cut our benefits, they said COVID-19. But this company has been making millions of dollars, in fact, one particular department can make eight million dollars in revenue a month, and this same company is telling us they are broke because of COVID-19.

“We should be fair to ourselves when workers elsewhere have been paid their redundancy packages. Our point is that, they should give us what is due us and let us go home. I don’t know my future if I’m going to get a job now. We have expatriates that have gone home and paid almost two million dollars.

“In fact, they are cutting off about 60 percent of what is due us when, in Nigeria, they have paid all the workers their due. So why is it that when it comes to Ghana, they do that? They took the matter to arbitration and as we speak, the Petroleum Commission and Labour Commission are not sitting because of this COVID-19,” Bright Kwabena Danquah, Chairman of the Schlumberger Workers’ Union, said in an interview earlier.

Speaking to later, Bright Kwabena Danquah said management and the workers Union had met and resolved all the issues they raised and had gone ahead to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), thus, bringing the matter to its finality.

“We have resolved all the lapses and reached an agreement. We have signed an MOU and we will submit it to the Petroleum Commission on Monday to let them know that what we have done,” he said.

According to him, management has agreed to pay in full severance package for all staff affected by the redundancy exercise.

He said instead of the initial two months’ salary multiplied by the number of years in the company by each worker, management has now decided to pay three months’ salary multiplied by the number of years a worker had been employed.

He added that management had agreed to recall the affected workers when activities in the upstream begins to pick up.


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