Fuel scarcity looms as oil workers begin nationwide warning strike

Workers in the nation’s oil and gas industry have concluded plans to commence a nationwide warning strike this Monday to protest against the federal government’s failure to carry out turnaround maintenance on the refineries and reduce the pump prices of petroleum products in line with the slump in global oil price.

The strike by the oil workers under the umbrella of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) is also in protest against delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

The strike follows the expiration of the 14-day ultimatum issued by the National Executive Council (NEC) of PENGASSAN to the federal government and other concerned employers’ and agencies in the sector.

The oil workers’ 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.

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affect all operations in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, as members will be withdrawn from all oil and gas installations.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 is a strong commitment from the government and employers in the sector to resolve the issues.

According to the unions, government has refused to honour all agreements reached with them on the turn around 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.

Credit: Linda Eroke/ThisDay