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Today’s Labor Updates, September 4, 2018

03 Sep 2018 | 13:26 UTC Lagos

Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil output at risk due to blockade: ExxonMobil

Author Eklavya Gupte

Lagos — ExxonMobil’s Nigerian oil producing unit says crude production and exports from its assets in southern Nigerian have come under threat following an over six-week blockade by former employees protesting their dismissal.

“The continued blockade means a loss of access for employees [and contractors]. Continued denial of access to production facilities could impact the company’s ability to safely continue production operations,” ExxonMobil said in a statement Sunday.

ExxonMobil, which exports over 300,000 b/d of crude from the Qua Iboe terminal, said the aggrieved workers, who were ex-security personnel engaged by the US oil firm along with 508 workers were dismissed in July, had been blockading the company’s offices and facilities since July 13.

A company spokesman told S&P Global Platts Monday that the protest had delayed plans by ExxonMobil to start refurbishing crude oil pipelines at the Qua Iboe terminal targeted at increasing production.

ExxonMobil said the aggrieved former employees had threatened workers with physical violence “and other actions that threaten production at one of Nigeria’s key joint venture assets.”

The protest has continued despite the Nigerian government’s directive on August 28, 2018 through the Minister of Labor ordering them to desist, the company added.

The chairman of ExxonMobil branch of the senior oil workers’ Pengassan union Rasak Obe had said in a statement in July that the workers had embarked on the action to protest against the mass, unfair dismissal of workers, mainly security personnel.

Obe said then the action would not be called off until the company re-instated the workers.

ExxonMobil said on Sunday that while the affected workers were third-party direct employees, it had offered significant severance packages to the affected workers as was negotiated and agreed by all parties.

Nigeria’s flagship export grade is produced from fields 20-40 miles off the coast of southeast Nigeria, and is brought onshore at the Qua Iboe terminal via a seabed pipeline system.

It is a light sweet crude and when refined has a high yield of gasoline and middle distillates, making it a very popular crude with global refiners.

ExxonMobil holds a 40% interest in the field’s production, with state-owned NNPC holding the remainder.

Where Labor Unions Aren’t Going Away

Unions are much stronger in Nordic countries than in the U.S. They’re also very different.

By Justin Fox ‎September‎ ‎3‎, ‎2018‎ ‎4‎:‎00‎ ‎AM‎ ‎CDT

Unions are on the decline in the U.S., and have been for a long time. Last year, only 6.5 percent of private-sector workers in the U.S. belonged to one. (Among public-sector workers the unionization rate was 34.4 percent and has held relatively steady over time, but the public sector’s share of the workforce has been shrinking since the 1970s.)

You probably already knew that, more or less. But low and declining union membership is not just an American thing (yes, this chart looks a little squished, but I thought I should have the same scale on all of them to make them easier to compare):

Managing the employment relationship in Alberta

Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP – Melanie SimonBrian Thiessen and Shaun Parker

Use the Lexology Navigator tool to compare the answers in this article with those from other jurisdictions.

Employment relationship

State-specific laws

What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?

The major Alberta employment-related statute is the Employment Standards Code. Other important statutes for private employers include:

  • the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Act;
  • the Employment Pension Plans Act;
  • the Human Rights Act;
  • the Labour Relations Code;
  • the Occupational Health and Safety Act;
  • the Workers Compensation Act; and
  • the Personal Information Protection Act.

A number of other laws affect public sector and broader public sector employers in Alberta.

For federally regulated employers, the main statute is the Canada Labour Code, although other federal legislation also governs the workplace (eg, the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Personal Information and Protection of Electronic Documents Act).

Who do these cover, including categories of worker?

Generally, the laws cover “employees”; however, because the laws governing the employment relationship are public welfare laws, the courts have held that the term ’employee’ must be broadly and liberally interpreted. Therefore, depending on the circumstances, the definition of ’employee’ may include persons whom the employer has treated as independent contractors, consultants, interns, employees of affiliated employers or employees of temporary help agencies. Health and safety law has been interpreted to include self-employed individuals and independent contractors as workers.


Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?

Yes – the rules or approaches may differ between a variety of agencies (eg, tax, health and safety), depending on the purpose of the specific legislation. A recognised category of ‘dependent’ contractors are also owed reasonable notice of contract termination.


Must an employment contract be in writing?

Contracts need not be in writing, but all employees have a contract by operation of law; in many cases contracts are part oral, part written (eg, offer letters or vacation policies), and part implied by the common law (eg, the employee’s duty of loyalty and the employer’s duty to provide reasonable notice of termination, except for just cause). Nevertheless, ensuring that employees have a comprehensive written employment agreement is the most prudent course of action.

Are any terms implied into employment contracts?

Yes – the major implied terms are the employee’s duty of loyalty and the employer’s obligation to provide reasonable notice of termination, except for just cause.

Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?

Yes – although arbitration clauses should be drafted carefully and in accordance with the Alberta Arbitration Act to ensure that the objectives behind agreements are achieved.

How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?

If a material change to an employment agreement is made without the employee’s consent, he or she may be able to quit and sue for constructive dismissal or claim damages for breach of contract. Any agreed changes should be supported by an exchange of consideration. Changes can be made unilaterally as long as notice under the contract or reasonable notice is provided. Written agreements may also contain provisions which specifically address amendments.

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