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Shell employees in Africa protest against being ‘sold’ by Shell

Shell employees in Africa protest against being “sold” by Shell

By John Donovan

29 July 2008

Shell has confirmed the sale of its downstream businesses in Ethiopia, Sudan and Djibouti to Oil Libya. Completion of the transfer is expected before the end of 2008. Until then, Shell continues to manage the business.  

Details were confirmed to Shell employees in Shell internal emails dated 10 July 2008, printed below.

The sale is at variance with an assurance given as recently as 19 January 2008 by the External Affairs Manager for Ethiopia and Djibouti, Bahiru Temesgen, who was quoted in “The Ethiopian Reporter” as saying “there was no such deal going on regarding the sale of Shell Ethiopia that he was aware of.”

Shell employees in Ethiopia had already initiated legal proceedings against Shell for an alleged fraud in the amendment of employee retirement terms without the consent of employees. The case has been submitted to the Ethiopian “EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE AFFAIRS DECIDING BOARD”. The board has been reviewing and hearing the argument of both sides for the past two months. Last week, the board advised both parties that it is ready to pass judgment, but it will gave one chance for both parties to settle the case amicably through negotiation. If no agreement is reached the Board will pass judgment tomorrow, 30 July 2008.

Matters are made worse because Shell employees in Ethiopia and Djibouti strongly believe they have been discriminated against in the business sale arrangements, compared with employees of Shell Sudan.

Shell Djibouti staff held a demonstration outside their office a few days ago and head office based staff of Shell Ethiopia held a demonstration outside the main entrance of Shell Ethiopia Ltd head office. The staff carried banners stating “WE ASK SHELL TO RESPECT ITS VALUES”. The staff called the General Manager, Mr. Jean Pierre Wyns, and informed him that Shell must stop treating them as domestic animals and abide with Shell’s claimed values, which supposedly includes respect for Shell employees.

Protest by Shell employees at HQ of Shell Ethiopia: July 2008

Shell employee protesters outside the HQ building of Shell Ethiopia

(Shell employees carrying out a demonstration in Djibouti)

In this connection, tempers flared during a meeting of Shell Ethiopian employees, when an HR Manager from London, Mr Douglas, allegedly said that all Shell Ethiopia employees were being SOLD to Oil Libya.  We understand that staff at the demonstration expressed their disgust at the word “SOLD” being used, saying that they are human beings with dignity, not commodities to be traded.

In addition to the photographs of protests by Shell employees in African Countries, we have also featured a photograph of Shell employees in Malaysia currently engaged in litigation with Shell over more alleged fraud, also involving retirement funds.


(Members of the 399 “Team A” former employees of Shell Malaysia suing Shell for unlawful deductions from their retirement funds)

Apparently Shell employees from Western Countries have not found it necessary to protest, as there are no white faces among any of the numerous current and former Shell employees shown in any of the photographs.

We will shortly publish an article about another matter involving a Shell employee, which also has racist overtones. The individual in question was sacked and put on a plane out of Nigeria on the same day of the sacking, without any satisfactory explanation. He had expressed his concern over his personal security. Since returning to the UK he has been batted back and forth between Shell operating companies, none of which is willing to answer his legitimate questions about the extraordinary treatment he has been subjected to without proper explanation.  A Shell game is in progress involving Shell Nigeria, Shell UK Limited and Shell in Poland, all ducking responsibility.  We are awaiting supply of all emails and associated correspondence before revealing the whole sorry tale. 

It is notable that for over four years Shell has been suing a former Shell Malaysia employee, Dr John Huong for alleged defamation. This is despite knowing within days of issuing proceedings in June 2004, that the author of this article and my father Alfred Donovan, both Englishman, have admitted being solely responsible for the relevant publication which contained well founded comment about Shell. There is no libel if what is stated is true. The oil giant preferred to bury an innocent Malaysian national in multiple injunctions rather than suing the Brits who have owned up to the alleged libellous publication. 

It is obscene that Shell is treating hard working employees so meanly and ruthlessly in some third world Countries while earning billions of dollars in profits and paying multimillion remuneration packages to fat cat Shell executives.  Shell knows that it would not get away with such ruthless, unethical and unfair conduct towards its employees in Europe, the USA, or Australasia. 

Shell Internal Emails.

—–Original Message—–

From: Wasike, Jaki J KSL-DAXC

Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 2:58 PM

Subject: SOPAF Bulletin: Shell signs agreement to sale Downstream Business in Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti

July 10 2008

Shell has announced today that it has signed an agreement with OiLibya to sell its downstream businesses in Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti.  Employees and their representatives in each country were informed today at Town Hall meetings, and other stakeholders are being advised over the next few days.  We hope to complete the sale by the end of 2008.

We are selling our shares in these companies – all companies will continue to operate as going concerns.

Under a separate agreement, which was also announced today, Engen of South Africa will acquire Shell’s business in Lesotho, and Shell’s share of its marketing JV with BP in Zimbabwe.  We also hope to complete this sale by the end of 2008.

The sales are consistent with Shell’s strategy of More Upstream and Profitable Downstream.  The remaining two ‘Optimise’ markets are still under review.  For all SOPAF staff, it remains business as usual and we must all remain focussed on our priorities – HSSE and delivering the best possible service for our customers.

Shell remains committed to its downstream business across Africa and is seeking to focus its portfolio on markets where it can deliver maximum value for its shareholders


 —–Original Message—–

From:                     Wyns, Jean-Pierre SHELETH-DAPE

Sent:                      Thursday, July 10, 2008 6:36 PM

To:                          0 All SHELETH  Employees

Subject:                 COMPANY UPDATE

Importance:         High


Dear Colleagues,

During today’s presentation, July 10th 2008, I confirmed that Shell has signed a sale and purchase agreement for the sale of its shares in Shell Ethiopia Limited to OiLibya.  The sale agreement also includes the sale of Shell’s downstream businesses in Djibouti & Sudan.  Both parties hope to complete the sale later in 2008.

The sale is consistent with Shell’s global strategy, known as ‘More Upstream and Profitable Downstream’.  Shell remains committed to its Downstream business across Africa and is seeking to focus its portfolio on markets where it can deliver maximum value for customers and shareholders. 

OiLibya will continue to operate the business as a going concern and there will be no immediate change to its customers or suppliers.  

Although I understand that the announcement may cause concerns, we must ensure our customers experience business as usual and I ask you to remain focused on delivering the best possible service for our customers.  Our priority must always be to focus on safe, reliable and cost effective operations.

We are arranging with the buyer an opportunity for Staff to meet OiLibya management and to hear from them what their plans are for the company.  We will let you know the date and timing as soon as this is organized, as I am sure that you will have many questions.

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