29 January 2013

Nigeria: Fuel Scarcity Looms As Oil Workers Threaten Strike

Oil workers under the auspices of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have issued a notice to embark on a three-day warning strike if companies in the Onne Free Trade Zone (FTZ) do not recall workers sacked for engaging in union activities.

The workers noted that as at August 2011, only five companies of the 123 companies operating in the FTZ allowed their members to join trade unions, while the leadership of the unions in these five companies were sacked for having the effrontery to join trade unions. They added that more companies have migrated to the FTZ since then.

In a communique issued after a meeting of the Joint Action Committee of the two unions on Onne FTZ in Port Harcourt, Rivers State last Thursday, the oil workers said that the planned industrial action will commence on February 13 and end on February 15, 2013 and will affect the entire South-east and South-south states except Delta and Edo states.

The workers said if after the three days' warning strike no concrete step was taken to correct the injustice by the employers in the FTZ, a full blown industrial action affecting the whole country and including but not limited to total shut down of the oil and gas production will be embarked upon.

According to them, the strike was in compliance with an earlier directive of the November 16, 2012 Joint National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of NUPENG and PENGASSAN in Calabar, Cross River State, which gave a three-week ultimatum to companies operating in the FTZ to allow unionisation in compliance with the Nigerian Labour laws.

The workers noted that more than two months after the expiration of that ultimatum, and despite intimating all concerned government agencies with the unwholesome anti-labour practices in the Onne FTZ, nothing had been done to redress the situation.

The statement said in part; "In trying to organise members in the Onne FTZ, we have lost members to sack, victimisation and humiliation contrary to labour best practices and as guaranteed by Section 40 of the Nigeria Constitution, Nigerian Labour Laws and International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 87 and 90.

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