Nigerian Oil workers have commenced an indefinite strike to protest what they called an unfair labour practice and non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill.
According to officials of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), the government has refused to implement agreements reached with the unions on these issues.
Already, long queues have returned to petrol stations in Abuja,the nation’s capital city as motorists engage in panic buying of petrol.
Meanwhile, unionists continue to chant solidarity songs, promising to enforce their industrial action unless government takes steps to address the issues.
The Federal Government is expected to meet with the union on Friday to address the issues.
The House of Representatives had on June 2 said it would do its best to ensure that the Petroleum Industry Bill “is passed soon”.
However, since that promise was made at the 3rd Downstream Stakeholders’ Conference of the House Committee on Petroleum Downstream in Abuja on Monday, the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr Emeka Ihedioha, till date the Bill has still not been passed.
The National President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), Babatunde Oguns has announced plans by the association to commence an industrial action in the first week of January.
The association has expressed its seriousness to carry out this threat if the Federal Government fails to rescind its decision to privatise the nation’s refineries.
Addressing members of the association at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in Abuja, Mr Oguns, flanked by the Deputy President of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers, said that the planned privatization is an attempt to hand over the nation’s refineries to cronies of the Federal Government.
He said that an indefinite strike will be declared in the first week of January 2014, to press home their demand on the Federal Government not to sell the nation’s refineries in the name of privatization.
“If between now and 24th of this month (December), government does not retract that every statement that has been made has been put on hold while further engagement is made, and everything we have to do is hinged on PIB (Petroleum Industry Bill) by first week of January, be rest assured that PENGASSAN and NUPENG will go on indefinite strike.”
He further said: “You cannot sell something without a model, without Nigerians knowing exactly what you are doing…the nature in which they do business in the oil and gas industry is fraught with secrecy. There must be a retraction first and it’s what they will make public, so Nigerians will know that it is on hold.”