POST TIME: 5 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
HC asks Chevron to pay Tk 604cr to employees

HC asks Chevron to pay Tk 604cr to employees

The High Court (HC) yesterday directed the US energy giant, Chevron Bangladesh, to pay Tk 604 crore to officers and workers in Bangladesh as profit sharing in accordance with the labour law.

An HC bench, comprising Justice Tariq-ul Hakim and Justice Iqbal Kabir, came up with the directive, while both the petitioners and defence informed the bench that they have reached a settlement outside the court.

The HC bench, then, directed Chevron to pay dividends to its officers and workers.

Later, the 538 Chevron employees, who had jointly filed a writ petition before the HC, seeking its directive on the matter, withdrew their petition. They said they would not proceed with the petition as they have reached a consensus to settle their dispute over dividends and service benefits.

In April 2017, to counter losses, Chevron had declared that it planned to sell its assets in the south Asian region, including Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia. But in October of the same year, the oil company decided not to leave Bangladesh, rather it invested USD 40 crore more in the country for development of gas wells.

Following the move of Chevron, the officers and workers filed a writ petition before the HC, seeking its directive on their service benefits and dividends.

In response to their writ petition, the HC had on April 10 in 2017 directed the government to block the amount equivalent to Chevron Bangladesh's employees' Workers' Profit Participation Fund (WPPF), as it apprehends the American energy giant might leave the country without paying the sum.

The petition was jointly filed by the 538 Chevron employees before the HC against the US oil giant and gas company for refusing to pay dividends to the officers and workers in accordance with the labour law.

After the HC order, then Chevron lawyer, barrister Omar Sadat, told reporters that Chevron might leave Bangladesh anytime as it has no fixed asset in the country and that the transfer of its shares to Xhenhua, a Chinese company, was now being processed.

“If Chevron leaves Bangladesh by selling its shares, the employees will not get their due payments under the Workers' Participation Fund. The petition was filed as the company had not paid about USD 76 million to its employees since 2006,” he added.

Although there is a provision in the Labour Law, 2006, to provide 0.5 per cent dividends from the profits to the workers of the company, Chevron is yet to do so.

The employees are supposed to get about USD 76 million from the WPPF between 2006 and 2013, Sadat noted.

Barrister Reza-e-Rabbi appeared before the HC yesterday on behalf of the petitioners.

Chevron operates the natural gas fields in Bibiyana, Jalalabad and Moulavi Bazar. They currently sell all their production to Petrobangla under the production sharing contract (PSC).

    More story on page 14