By NBF News

The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has given oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), a 72-hour ultimatum to refund illegal levies it has allegedly been deducting from its workers' salaries or the union would be forced to embark on strike

The labour union also warned SPDC to stop one Fidelis Okandeji from parading himself as chairman and to also stop him from signing documents on behalf of the workers.

In a statement, issued by the General Secretary, Elijah Okougbo, NUPENG said enough is enough of the undue interference in the internal matters affecting the union members in SPDC.

According to the statement, NUPENG said it would no longer tolerate such unwholesome attitude of SPDC in aiding and abetting the alleged indiscipline of SPDC branch chairman and ignoring the decisions taken by the national executive council (NEC) on Shell branch workers.

NUPENG said its attention was drawn to the illegal deductions in the name of levy from the salaries of its members at the instance of SPDC branch executive chairman committee of NUPENG

NUPENG said the levy was illegal because it was not approved by the NEC as required by Rule (18A) of the union's constitution. It added that it was a violation of the letter and spirit of the constitution.

'We have it on record that the illegal deductions from the workers' salaries run into more than N3 million every month. The levy is not union dues and we do not know the project that it is earmarked for on monthly basis. We are directing that the deductions should be stopped henceforth.

'NUPENG warns SPDC that we will react negatively in consonance with the NUPENG constitution and our extant labour laws, if the company fails to comply with the directive on levies not approved by the secretariat of the union. We call on SPDC management to immediately refund all illegal deductions to the workers or else, we will petition the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure that the illegal deductions are paid back to the workers who are members of NUPENG,' the statement read in part.

The union said its national administrative council at its meeting held in August 2011, set up a committee to investigate the sale of oil blocs by SPDC and the role played by the branch executive in the transaction. The union alleged that Mr. Okandeji as chairman of the Shell branch of NUPENG did not only refuse to appear before the committee set up by the union but also instructed other members and units not to attend.

'This intransigence is unacceptable to the leadership of the union as it is tantamount to anti-union activity. Against this background, the NEC took the following decisions to remove the branch chairman of the Shell branch of NUPENG who was also zonal vice chairman of the Warri Zonal Council with immediate effect.'That. Mr Okandeji is expelled from the union with immediate effect. Any document signed by him on behalf of the Shell branch of NUPENG is null and void,' the statement read.