BUSI­NESS Oil work­ers be­gin strike today

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Daniel Adugbo and Mo­hammed Shosanya, La­gos

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

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