BUSINESS Oil workers begin strike today
Nigeria’s senior oil workers union will go ahead with a planned indefinite strike today, having failed to resolve some industry issues with the federal government.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has directed its members to begin gradual withdrawal of services from their offices, sites and production facilities in protest of job losses, delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and inability of the NNPC to meet piling debts to international oil companies.
The National Public Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, Comrade Emmanuel Ojugbana, told our reporter on phone that the strike would cripple all activities and operations in the oil and gas sector.
“It will affect every activity in the oil and gas industry,” Ojugbana said, adding that PENGASSAN members in all the agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, oil majors, labour and contract services companies and petroleum products marketing companies would join in the action.
“It is a gradual shutdown, unless government intervenes,” he added.
Ojugbana said that the workers’ major grievance was the issue of JV funding and cash call payments owed international oil companies.
“The IOCs have restated that government owes them about $7bn and nothing is being done. Government is not in any way keeping its obligations on this funding issue such that the IOCs have stopped several of their projects.
“New investments and jobs are not created, this is also crippling down service companies as many of them are now reducing their staff.”
The union appealed for understanding of all Nigerians and operators that would be impacted by the strike, saying that the action was in the interest of the industry.
“One of the ways we have asked government to address this JV funding is through the PIB, we would not have been talking about funding JV or cash call arrears if PIB had been addressed. But, again, we just see the government not being sincere and prepared to do something.”
Asked why his members would not give the new NNPC group managing director some time to resolve the issues, Ojugbana said that the issue was beyond him.
“We won’t do that, the GMD is not the owner of the process, he reports to somebody and it is that man he reports to that we have had several engagements with,” said Ojugbana.
Members of PENGASSAN celebrate May Day at the Eagle Square in Abuja. ARIK AIR