For the Director General of Total Gabon,vaccination will allow his company to consider a “sustainable return to the office, … the resumption of attendance at our conviviality rooms and the holding of face-to-face meetings”.
Affected by Covid-19, Total Gabon, which plans to relaunch its activities, is putting pressure on its employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. In a note dated June 21, 2021, the Ceo of Total Gabon, Stéphane Bassene informs his staff that all those who will not be vaccinated before September 15, 2021, will not access its oil sites. Because,”we are thus considering the end of lockdowns before accessing the sites from September 15, 2021. It is therefore imperative that all those concerned can have been vaccinated by that date,”he wrote.
To justify its decision, Total Gabon cites the difficulties caused by the containment measures imposed by oil companies on their staff before accessing an oil site. Measures that are not beneficial to the company. “Given the increasing difficulty of experiencing the confinement required of staff before accessing industrial sites, its very high cost and the disruptions that this causes in the rhythms of work, it is now more than necessary to return to normal operation from 15 September. In addition, the vaccination of as many people as possible will make it possible to lift the periods of confinement currently required to go on site and which are felt by our colleagues and partners to be very trying,”says Stéphane Bassene.
Within the company, this decision is difficult to pass on to employees in the oil sector. This is all the more true since in Gabon vaccination is not compulsory. “Until proven otherwise, Total Gabon is not the Gabonese State and cannot impose on Gabonese citizens what the State has not declared mandatory by laws or regulations. This decision is absurd, implausible, unacceptable,” saidSylvain Mayabi Binet, secretary general of the National Organization of Petroleum Employees (Onep).
General strike in prospect
To find out if Total Gabon had the government’s agreement, Sylvain Mayabi Binet questioned the Minister of Petroleum, Vincent de Paul Massassa, on July 12, during the program “Face à vous” on Gabon 1st. The member of the governmentsaid that he did not have that information. “It is you who are communicating it to me at this moment”. Nevertheless, the minister encouraged Gabonese to get vaccinated and reminded them that to date, vaccination remains the best way to protect themselves against the pandemic.
But Onep, the most representative union of the oilsector in Gabon, says it is ready”to call workers to a general strike in the sector if the individual freedoms guaranteed and protected by the country’s constitution are violated by Total Gabon. Because if it goes to Total Gabon, it will inevitably spread throughout the oil sector,” says Sylvain Mayabi Binet.
When contacted, Total Gabon has not yet reacted. During 2020, Total Gabon recorded a 46% decrease in revenue compared to the previous year, and a net profit down 274%.
Source: Agence Ecofin