Shell workers facing “shocking exploitation”, report says


A new report from global union IndistriALL alleges Shell workers in Nigeria face shocking exploitation through wages, contracts, fundamental rights violations from the oil giant, as well as exposure to health and safety hazards.

“We work like an elephant and eat like an ant,” said a worker at Umuebulu-Etche Flow Station in the outskirts of Port Harcourt.

Shell’s Umuebulu-Etche Flow Station

“Our (contractor) salary at Plantgeria is about 95,000 naira (US$257/month). In Nigeria today, you can’t do anything on that. You can’t pay your children’s school fees. You can’t eat well. You can’t do anything better for yourself.” 

Some workers said they hadn’t been paid by their contractors for several months and said if they asked for a pay rise they would be escorted off the property by police.

Port Harcourt and the Niger Delta have seen increasing levels of violence over the years with kidnapping and armed robbery not unusual.

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Shell is the biggest foreign multinational oil company in Nigeria, earning an estimated US$4 billion from Africa’s largest oil producing country in 2017.

At its AGM in May, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden said it is not financially viable to give contract workers permanent jobs, but workers in Nigeria say some of them have been contacting for 20 years.

Last year Shell made headlines when Amnesty International called for a criminal investigation into Shell regarding allegations in was complicit in human rights abuses carried out by the Nigerian military in the early 1990s.

The allegations included witness statements that allege the oil giant managed a squad of military-trained undercover police when the company was nearly forced out of Ogoniland due to protests. The Guardian reports about 1,000 people were killed and 30,000 made homeless after villages were razed in the subsequent skirmishes.

Shell recently announced it had joined forces with other energy companies to create a collaborative approach to human rights supplier assessments in the energy industry. Participating companies say they recognise the importance of working with suppliers that respect human rights including the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization.

Shell was approached for comment.

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