Oil Workers’ End Strike

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Queue at the filling station in Abuja

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers have called off their indefinite strike to protest negative welfare issues and delay in passing the Petroleum Industry Bill

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Dec. 29, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT  |

OIL workers on Friday, December 19, called off the nationwide indefinite strike to protest against the federal government’s failure to carry out turnaround maintenance on the refineries after the reached agreement with the government negotiators. They were also protesting the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB. The striking oil workers under the auspices of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, are also agitating for the reduction of pump prices of petroleum products in line with the drop in global oil price.

The striking unions had on October 31, issued a 14-day ultimatum to the federal government and other concerned employers’ and agencies in the sector, threatening that it would embark on strike after the expiration of the ultimatum.

But the government has refused to honour its demands. The unions in a statement said the ultimatum had since expired without any meaningful resolution or commitment from either the government or the concerned employers’ and agencies at resolving the issues.Their grievances also include termination of appointment of the Port Harcourt zonal secretary of the association by Total Exploration and Production, Total E&P, Nigeria Limited; retardation of staff promotion in the Petroleum Technology Development Fund, PTDF; non-standardisation of nomenclature and collective bargaining agreement of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, NNRA, in line with what is obtained in other agencies in the oil and gas industry and refusal of the management of Addax/Petrostuff Nigeria Limited and Chevron/Sudelletra to recall sacked staff.

Francis Johnson, president, PENGASSAN
Francis Johnson, president, PENGASSAN

They decried the non-implementation of the Nigeria Oil and Gas Industry Content Development, NOGICD, Act to reflect Nigerians in management positions and expatriate quota abuse. The industrial action is also to protest the state of access roads to refineries and oil depots’ facilities, insecurity all over the country that has led to the death of members, appointments in government agencies in disregards to succession planning, compulsory deduction from workers’ salaries for the National Housing Fund, NHF, casualisation and contract staffing and unfair labour practices by companies and government agencies.

The statement added that the strike would affect all operations in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, as members will be withdrawn from all oil and gas installations. The unions explained that members had been fully mobilised to embark on the indefinite strike, adding that the strike will not be suspended until there government and employers in the industry show a strong commitment resolve the issues.

According to the unions, government has refused to honour all agreements reached with them on the turnaround maintenance of the refineries and ensure adequate supply of crude oil to the refineries. The unions urged the government to put in place alternative strategies to stop pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, convene an industry stakeholders’ forum on PIB status and address the issue of divestment in the industry. They also called for immediate conversion of all contract workers to regular staff in accordance with the approved contract, casual and outsourcing in the oil and industry guidelines.

However, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, has assured Nigerians that the strike action embarked upon by the oil workers would not dislocate the robust distribution and sale of petroleum products to the public. The corporation in a statement made available to Realnews, on Monday, December 15, said the Corporation was in talks with the leadership of the unions who gave the assurance that they would not disrupt the fuel supply and distribution system as the strike was basically aimed at addressing the anti-labour issues by some of the International Oil Companies, IOCs.

The NNPC and its downstream subsidiary, the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, PPMC, also revealed that it has over 32 days stock of petroleum products available for supply across the nation during the yuletide season and beyond. The corporation also disclosed that 17 additional petroleum laden vessels are at the Lagos port waiting to discharge to the various depots for onward distribution to members of the public. It further assured that everything was being done to ensure that there was no hitch whatsoever in the supply system that could bring any form of hardship to motorists and those who intend to travel during the period.

The corporation called on members of the public to avoid panic buying or stock piling of petroleum products as that could lead to needless queues or cause fire accidents that could lead to loss of lives and property. It also advised marketers to desist from hoarding or diversion of petroleum products as any marketer caught in the act would be sanctioned.

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