Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS) and the UN Global CON-pact
A mob is not, as is so often said, mindless. A mob is single-minded. ~ Teju Cole
But human nature dictates that there will always be cheaters. That’s inevitable. Where there’s money involved and glory, there are going to be people that cheat, and there will always be ways to cheat. ~ David Millar
The United Nations (UN) governing bodies should not accept Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS) signing the UN Global Compact in 2018. PGS misuses their signing the UN Global Compact to hide their corrupt and unethical business practices and further marginalize victims of their nefarious practices through membership.
The former CEO and President of Norwegian based marine geophysical company, Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS), Jon Erik Reinhardsen, published this Responsibility Letter (above) on the company website sometime after I had stopped working for PGS. My final work day in the PGS Exploration (UK) Limited, 4 The Heights, Brooklands, Weybridge, England, KT13 0NY (PGSUK), was 5-Dec-2013. However, I was on garden leave until 24-Dec-2013, when my family and I flew to the US. The Responsibility Letter states that in December 2013 (23-Dec-2013), PGS signed onto the UN Global Compact. On 5-December-2013, I had signed a settlement contract agreement (SCA) which terminated my employment within the Marine Contract Sales – Africa group. I am a US citizen, and the PGSUK workgroup had agreed to renew their sponsorship of me, along with my wife and children, on a Tier 2 shortage occupation list (SOL) visa the past July 2013 for an additional three-years. The application process was involved and PGSUK had effectively stated to the UK Border Agency that I was still needed to support their business objectives. However, the SCA was proffered to me in response to a formal workplace grievance which I submitted against Marine Contract – Africa management practices, which I believe breached the terms of my contract of employment, PGSUK policy, UK employment laws, as well as categorical violations of the PGS social contract embedded within PGS Core Values. The grievance document which I submitted cited workplace actions and behaviors perpetrated by three principals. The principals implicated within my grievance were my first line supervisor, Edward von Abendorff, VP Marine Contract Sales – Africa; his boss Simon Cather, President Marine Contract – Africa; and David Nicholson, PGSUK HR Manager.
In addition to providing examples of non-compliant behaviors that I believed constituted workplace gang-bullying and harassment perpetrated by the three principals, the document also highlighted researched health-harming impacts of such behaviors to targets and organizations. PGS employees were often reminded of the importance of PGS Core Values. The grievance pointed out how the behaviors and actions of the three principals departed from the prescribed PGS Core Values. Further, the grievance also referenced the PGSUK Handbook, which PGSUK employees are required to read and sign-off on. The grievance document also noted many departures from many standard protocols and practices. PGS Core Values were the company cynosure, showcasing a commitment to ethical and responsible business practices wherever PGS did business around the globe. The Marine Contract Sales – Africa group would always showcase PGS Core Values within our bid proposals to potential customers. To this end, the UN Global Compact, in many respects, amplifies the commitments put forth within the PGS Core Values. Companies require a pledge of support to the ideals from their board of directors (board) to sign the UN Global Compact. The PGS board in 2013 consisted of, Francis Gugen (Chairperson), Harold Norvik, Holly Van Deursen, Daniel J. Piette, Carol Bell, Walter Qvam, and Anne Grethe Delane. Ironically, I never sensed that PGS board and management was the least bit concerned with my plight, which involved pertinent issues of anti-corruption, employment rights, and human rights, common to the UN Global Compact principles. They certainly never communicated to me directly.
Mistreating people in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way is the lowest level of human quality. Such mistreatment often comes from the abuse of power or authority through repeated acts over time by a more powerful individual or group upon those who are less powerful is epidemic in workplaces. Such abuses of power are the basis for most violations pertinent to the UN Global Compact. Psychological harassment, bullying, and gang-bullying (mobbing), entail mistreatment through coercing by fear or threat a workers job and/or financial security. Workers usually have a strong necessity for a job to earn a living. This necessity for a job to earn a living can be exploited, so that workers will accept working in deficient health and safety conditions. Mistreatment often involves the manipulation and underhanded influence through lies, deception, or creating false expectations. This is done so the abusers will gain benefit and/or power. All these behaviors violate basic human rights and are, therefore, blatant injustices, contrary to the respect due to human dignity, and of course a violation of principles fomented within the PGS Core Values and UN Global Compact. Alleviating such abhorrent workplace practices requires directed decisions from the top-levels of an organization and not simple platitudes. However, it seems abundantly clear in my case that PGS board and executive management do not care about business ethics beyond the optics. Signing onto the UN Global Compact and highlighting PGS Core Values within business proposals and stakeholder brochures is not, in of itself, a demonstration of any corporate responsibility.
In both law and politics, I think the essential battle is the meta-battle of framing the narrative. ~ Ted Cruz
No compromise with the main purpose, no peace till victory, no pact with unrepentant wrong. ~ Winston Churchill
Business ethics in practice, as with any business objective, needs to be evidenced through transparency and outcomes (and not opaque silence). Making a spectacle of an allegiance to the UN Global Compact and PGS Core Values is shamefully hypocritical and hollow, in of itself. It’s a deception, like wrapping a pile of shit in nice pretty paper and a bow. Character, values, and integrity, are not labels, but are visceral qualities. True values are often best revealed in times of crisis, when they are put to the test in forming decisions. Instruments, such as the UN Global Compact, unfortunately, can be misappropriated as deceptive marketing tools that camouflage corrupt business practices. This is the case with PGS. In effect, the PGS board and executive management inaction to take a stand in my personal struggle violated most every principle and intention lauded within the UN Global Compact. Their collective absence in engaging the issues brought forth within my presented grievance violated my human rights and dignity, my employment rights under contract, and allowed corrupt executive management practices to continue unabated. As a target of workplace gang-bullying, I can only note the hypocrisy of actions and decisions that those with authoritative power at PGS made, and it is repugnant. There were clearly self-serving and corrupt reasons for signing the UN Global Compact. PGS board and management wanted to absolve themselves from actually addressing destructive behaviors, while deceiving stakeholders that PGS takes such matters of human indignity seriously. As they say in Texas, all hat, no cattle!
English comic, Joe Lycett, makes light of the absurdity of relying simply on labels as evidence. Lycett tells a story of how he got out of a parking fine because of insufficient evidence (watch the entertaining video). Lycett challenged the Town Counsel to provide evidence of his violation. The evidence that the Town Counsel provided him was simply a photo of the vehicle with the words taxi rank written on its side window. (A taxi rank is a place where taxis wait for passengers.) The evidence photo (left) does not actually show the vehicle in the taxi rank, and so Lycett decides to dispute his fine while making his point about the evidence provided. During his correspondence with the Town Counsel, he apologizes for the delay in getting back with the Counsel worker, and states that it was because he was away to Costa del Sol (holiday area in southern Spain). He shows evidence of this through a photo of himself holding a sign which reads Costa del Sol while wearing a pair of sunglasses. The Counsel worker responds and requests evidence that Lycett was not parked in the taxi rank. Lycett responds that he was parked on the moon, as the photo clearly shows, because the moon is written across a photo of his vehicle! The Counsel worker, perhaps for reasons of being amused by the exchange, cancels the fine. Most people would not challenge such a fine. It involved more value of time and effort than the fine is worth. But, Lycett is a professional comedian. Lycett’s point is clear: declaring something is different than evidence of something.
PGSUK should have never proffered the SCA in response to the grievance without first investigating and then responding to the claims which were made within its contents. That was my legal right, in addition to being the responsible and ethical thing to do. However, PGS board and management instead chose against taking the high road. With each passing day, the events and subsequent decisions around my termination from employment with PGSUK have become clearer. PGS management abused their authority and obstructed every avenue of legal and compliant redress. They abandoned protocols and allowed non-compliant and illegal actions to be carried out with the explicit knowledge and intention of harming me and my family physically, psychologically, and financially. They knew such decisions would negatively impact the well-being of me and my family. PGS management was aware of the significance of their actions. After all, the PGS board and management were concurrently researching signing the UN Global Compact. PGS management withheld documentation, misrepresented facts, kept secrets and schemed behind my back, in order to limit my choices and ability to formally raise concerns and then have them acted on fairly and objectively. The true objectives and decisions of the PGS board and management were sinisterly divorced from PGS Core Values. Rather, their collective focus was to contrive a way to terminate my employment and escape having to deal with issues brought forth in the grievance altogether. In order to do this, PGS management would need to change the narrative.
The biggest abuses in society happen when people are not able to communicate and not able to connect. ~ Heather Brooke
Fine words butter no parsnips ~ 17th Century English Proverbial saying meaning nothing is achieved by empty words or flattery
PGS board and management wanted my termination. They did not want to deal with responding to the grievance which I had submitted. Therefore, PGS board and management decided on a corrupt and evil path of resolution. The PGS board and management decided to pursue an alternate reality and simply not accept the existence of any such grievance, as well as the transgressions brought to their attention. PGS board and management decided to ignore the grievance altogether. I had first postulated submitting a grievance 13-Jun-2013 citing an event which I believed contravened prescribed practices. However, my queries about the grievance process were obstructed and delayed for months. Finally, I presented a formal grievance document 20-Sep-2013 during a short meeting. The meeting attendees, besides me, were Nicholson, von Abendorff, and my coworker/witness, John Barnard. Copies were also sent to the bullies, as well as the hierarchical superiors of the bullies. Cather reported to Per Arild Reksnes, PGS EVP Marine Contract, and Nicholson reported to Terje Bjølseth, PGS SVP Global HR. John Greenway, PGS SVP Marine Contract, who the Marine Contract Sales – Africa group interacted with during strategy discussions, received a copy. Surprisingly, following the grievance submission, 20-Sep-2013, it was Nicholson, who was a principal implicated for his misuse of the performance management system and defamation within the presented grievance document, that was allowed to coordinate and schedule the grievance hearing meeting. Nicholson eventually did schedule a grievance hearing meeting for 14-Oct-2013. It would be a video conference link from the PGS offices in Norway offices to PGS England offices.
No one from Norway contacted me between 20-Sep-2013 and 14-Oct-2013. Again, I was surprised to be proffered an initial SCA on 10-Oct-2014 from Nicholson to stop the grievance process. During this meeting, Nicholson stated that it had been the determination of PGS lawyers in Norway and England that I was in dispute with the Company. However, no PGS lawyers ever contacted and explained this to me. I rejected the initial SCA. I made it clear to Nicholson that it was my intention to continue the grievance process. The grievance hearing meeting was chaired by Bjølseth and Reksnes in Norway, with Barnard, and myself attending from England. On 11-Oct-2013, upon coming across an article on UK employment law, I made contact with its author. The piece was written by employment law solicitor, Philip Landau, who was with Landau, Zeffertt, and Weir Solicitors (LZW), at the time. Landau was aware of the scheduled grievance hearing and also had received a copy of the grievance document with names the names redacted before it happened. Following the grievance hearing, until my eventual signing of an SCA, I had no direct communication with regard to the grievance with anyone from PGS/PGSUK. My desire had always been to go forward through the steps of the grievance. However, PGS/PGSUK was stubbornly silent about discussing the grievance. Landau pushed for the SCA, as well. There was no feedback or investigation by PGS. I knew from this climate, that I would be leaving England and acquiesced to the fact that it would be best to leave with an SCA, rather than endure the toxic work conditions any longer. I did not formally engage (remunerate) Landau as my legal advisor until 22-Oct-2013. Landau was assisted by Holly Rushton.
In late October 2013, PGS further complicated the process through deciding to have employment lawyer, Rhodri Thomas, with legal firm Watson, Farley, and Williams (WFW), negotiate the SCA final terms on behalf of PGS/PGSUK. It is important to note that WFW had been provided with a lot of my personal data because WFW had advised on my Tier 2 visa application. The SCA negotiations lasted, unofficially, from 11-Oct-2013 to 5-Dec-2013. I never had any direct communication regarding the grievance with anyone from PGS/PGSUK following the 14-Oct-2014 meeting. All communications to and from me and PGS, with regard to the grievance, went through Landau and Rushton. I never communicated with Thomas directly either. The formal negotiations commenced 1-Nov-2013. The whole situation was taking a physical toll on me, in addition to the psychological burden to the entire family. I was visiting doctors and even took an entire week off while negotiations were underway. I want to say that PGS never abbreviated my work load, nor were work group colleagues taking over my workload. When I returned from my sick leave, Nicholson and von Abendorff requested that I see an occupational health nurse (OHN), which I did. Perhaps, they wanted to catch me in abusing my sick leave, or something to gain advantage for the SCA negotiations. However, the OHN did detect elevated stress levels and issued a preliminary report to me. Landau was informed about this, but again, these health issues were never really brought-up. I was kept very busy, and was affectively kept away from direct involvement in the SCA negotiations. Landau and Rushton communicated through e-mails, which mostly covered parsing particular clauses of the SCA. Again, almost every point brought up within the grievance document was ignored.
Unless both sides win, no agreement can be permanent. ~ Jimmy Carter
An autobiography can distort; facts can be realigned. But fiction never lies: it reveals the writer totally. ~ V. S. Naipaul
Of course, the point central to all of these matters of employment law was the fact that I was a foreign worker on a Tier 2 visa. This was mostly recognized through the SCA through the inclusion of moving expenses to repatriate me and my family to the US. (Thailand had also been contemplated as a destination, because of my wife was a Thai citizen and my children held dual US-Thai citizenship.) However, any requisite actions and communications with UK Border Agency were not really discussed, even though queries about this were brought-up during negotiations. The other main issues of discussion revolved around health care and health insurance. Again, the UK has universal health care and the US does not. In the US, employees were allowed to keep insurance for a six month period following termination. Because of my health issues, I wanted to keep my UK health insurance in the US for six months. I did not get this concession. However, the most important objective of my submitting a formal grievance was the true and accurate accounting of my professional performance and record. My grievance was about the personal subject data that PGS/PGSUK would process under my name. The grievance challenged the integrity of the processes and outcomes from the HR department. While there was an agreement to abandon a separate claim of defamation, also made within the grievance document, during the SCA negations, this by no means was a concession that the overall assertions made within the grievance document were unfounded. The day before signing the SCA, I was assured that the records being processed by PGS/PGSUK were true and accurate.
Another condition to my signing the SCA was to be placed to remain employed and in England so that my daughters could complete their school term. I was placed on garden leave from my signing the SCA until the end of December 2013, although we all departed England 24-Dec-2013. We arrived in Houston, Texas, US, at the beginning of January 2014, and had to attend to getting my daughters enrolled into school. I also continued my job search, which had been initiated while I was still in England. I also hooked-up with the Geophysical Society of Houston, and attended and volunteered at their different events. It was always believed by me that my separation from employment was based on the grievance, as it was the only official action that I was involved with. Through the course of my interviews and discussions, I was getting strange queries and reactions. At the same time, the cost of moving my family from Weybridge, England to Houston, Texas was not paid upon signing the SCA, but was agreed to be paid as a reimbursable. Again, I had never liked this payment scheme. I wanted to just end my dealing with PGS/PGSUK. However, by this arrangement the process of my move and execution of the SCA did not actually complete until April-May 2014. So, although I immediately had sensed interference from PGS/PGSUK in my job search, I also did not want to jeopardize the reimbursement payments. However, in October 2014, I submitted a subject access request (SAR) to PGSUK citing the UK Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA).
The European Union (EU) regards an individual’s personal data integrity as a human right. This view has been buttressed through the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which replaced DPA in May 2018. It was through receiving the firm contents of my PGSUK personnel file following the 2014 PGSUK SAR that I discovered that my true and accurate personal data was replaced with illegal fake data. Over time, I have deduced that this fake data was used to support the SCA, which would make the SCA fraudulent. The legal advisers whom I had engaged to represent me during my employment crisis in England, Landau and Rushton, have never come to my aid in resolving my personal data issue.
The only documents which I received from my SAR to WFW were a copy of my original employment contract and the SCA. When I queried about the Tier 2 visa personal data, WFW essentially stated that was not a consideration during my termination. What? The legal basis which allowed me to be employed as a PGSUK foreign worker sponsored on a Tier 2 visa was not considered in my termination? Then what data was considered? Similarly, when I submitted an SAR with LZW, Landau just provided my case file, which only included the dialogue in the without prejudice marked discussions with WFW/Thomas. This did not include all of the communications and queries between me, Landau and Rushton. The e-mails between me and my legal advisers were more focused on the points raised within the grievance, and not so much the final clauses included in the SCA.
In business, standards establish the rules of the game, creating path dependencies as investments are made and corresponding designs are set in stone and plastic. Inferior standards can prevail due to smart marketing or industry collusion. ~ Evgeny Morozov
Some values must universal, like human rights and the equal worth of every human being. ~ Bjorn Ulvaeus
PGS board and management demonstrated the most egregious and corrupt violations of human rights and employment rights. Their decisions and actions embodied the antithesis to the proclamations made within the UN Global Compact. It now seems evidently clear that PGS board and management would replace true and accurate personal records with defamatory fake records and process a fraudulent SCA. The PGS board and management would also bribe legal advisers, separate data controllers, to ensure the processing of fake personal data to produce such an evil outcome. Finally, PGS board and management have a selfish interest in facilitating the continued misuse of resources, human and financial, to preserve this defamatory narrative by refusing not to correct their intentionally inaccurate and disparaging personal data. The PGS board and management have continued their character assassination on a person whom they had already abused and mistreated through multiple departures from their lauded PGS Core Values, as well as breaches of contract and employment laws. The HR personnel who aided in the destruction of my personal data and narrative to advance the fraudulent one were, according to Nicholson, Laura Haswell, Anne Stokle, and Gareth Jones. (Jones was conveniently based in Houston, Texas, US, at the time.) It is reasonable to take most any claim made by known liar and cheater Nicholson with a grain of salt. Nicholson related this information to me in a threatening letter intended to intimidate me into quit asking questions about the personal data being processed by PGSUK in my name. From this letter, Cather also aided the HR team in forming the fake HR personnel file contents.
PGS board and management also unabashedly highlighted and published fraudster Cather’s anti-corruption philosophy within the PGS 2013 Responsibility Report, in spite of his being a principal implicated in non-compliant and illegal behaviors mentioned. Professional HR personnel carrying out their duties legally and compliant should have easily recognized the non-compliant and false personnel file documents. First of all, my signature does not appear on any of the pertinent personnel file documents, nor does the signature of my boss, von Abendorff. Under normal circumstances, von Abendorff would have been responsible to assess my work and sign any such documents. Normally, we would both sign documents regarding performance. However, any disagreement on points would need to be annotated into the content and signed. In my case, authentication, the process of establishing the legality and integrity of my personal data, was bypassed. All three data controllers, PGS/PGSUK, WFW, and LZW, as legal advisers, provided this assurance by proxy through the abuse of their positions of trust and not a legally valid verification process. The personal data that was received through the different SARs hardly mentioned the submitted grievance document. Most the data regards the tit-for-tat negotiations for the final language of the SCA terms and conditions. All the corrupt lawyers involved knew that the purpose of any SCA is essentially to make any future litigation of tort impossible. Add into the mix that I would not be in the UK, the parties (data controllers) must have viewed their confidence fraud solution as low risk. But, I own my narrative and the SCA is relevant to a false narrative.
What is truly reprehensible is that during the same period of time that PGS board and management were contemplating signing onto the UN Global Compact, they were simultaneously determined to violate my personal human rights and rights under employment and contract law through fraud, bribery, and embezzlement. PGS board and management stole my personal narrative to create their false identity. This false identity is fortified through their exalting their executive fraudsters, such as Cather, as anti-corruption advocates within the 2013 PGS Responsibility Report. Their mythology is further reinforced through signing onto an agreement which they were concurrently violating, the UN Global Compact, and of course the SCA. My protest, blog writing campaign, had its genesis in PGS board and management violations in the principles of the UN Global Compact. At its core, there was a human rights violation when true and accurate personal data with replaced with fake personnel file records maliciously used to form a false pretense for termination from employment. I have called-out the PGS board and management violations since the day I received my personnel file contents. So many PGS/PGSUK personnel have been involved with the lies and cover-up, because the cover-up suits the corrupted interests of the PGS board and management. I am still writing for justice in 2018. My first published blog article, An American, the UK Data Protection Act, Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) and the Tyranny of “Accurate Data”, pointed out DPA violations. The PGS board and management have never refuted my allegations, so much as ignored them. The greatest abuse of human rights and dignity is to deny one their personal narrative. And this is what PGS board and management have done. They continue to deny my truth and process their self-serving mythology.
Not everyone has been a bully or the victim of bullies, but everyone has seen bullying, and seeing it, has responded to it by joining in or objecting, by laughing or keeping silent, by feeling disgusted or feeling interested. ~ Octavia E. Butler
Man only honors what he conquers or defends. ~ Joseph Goebbels