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Nigeria, USA, Norway, Others Team Up To Confront Shell

Industrial Global Union affiliates from eight countries met in London on July 3 and 4, 2019, for the fifth Shell Global Union Network meeting, and committed to closer collaboration, particularly in organizing workers at the multinational energy company.

Trade union representatives from IndustriALL affiliates in Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway and USA met for the fifth annual meeting of the network which is supported by FES.

The meeting opened with an update on the Shell campaign, which over the past year has included a mission to Port Harcourt in Nigeria, as well as interventions at the International Labour Conference and the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, to highlight union busting and poverty living conditions of contract workers at Shell Nigeria. Most recently, IndustriALL raised workers’ rights at the Shell AGM in May.

In Nigeria, IndustriALL affiliate, NUPENG, said that all blue-collar workers have been outsourced at Shell, and they have only been able to organise logistics workers due to anti-union practices by the company.

“Workers are automatically sacked if they try to talk to a union. If a contractor company talks to a union, Shell signals that they won’t renew the contract,” said Olawale Afolabi, NUPENG general secretary.

Shell has repeatedly denied the allegations but, says Afolabi:  “The onus is on Shell to prove that workers who are contributing to profits are protected and have the right to good conditions. Shell is making the victim find the evidence.”

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A key of the goal of the Shell campaign is to reduce outsourcing at the company, which affects all operations.

In Norway, Jorn Boe, from Industri Energi, told how workers were being hired in to work at Shell for four years as contractors, after which they are entitled to permanent employment. However, workers are being kicked out and replaced by someone else just before the four years is over.

In the USA, the United Steelworkers (USW) noted that the entire maintenance force at Shell’s new ethylene cracker plant, which is under construction in Pennsylvania, will be contracted out, putting a question mark over safety and making it difficult to organize the workers.

The USW also said that Shell in the US is specifically looking to award contracts to companies that are non-union. The USW and Dutch affiliate FNV committed to working together to increase organizing at Shell.

Participants heard different approaches to collective bargaining from the USW and FNV. USW has negotiated good pay rises and improvements in health and safety, while FNV has also included provisions for training and career development for its members.

Furthermore, FNV has been able to negotiate a supplementary top up payment for workers at Shell’s NUM subsidiary of up to 20 per cent of their original salary for two years if they take a lesser paid job elsewhere. This is to provide a Just Transition for workers who are moving out of the fossil fuel sector into sectors that are not as well paid.

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Source: The Sun

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