Oil workers vow to sustain nationwide strike

Nigerian oil workers unions, the Petroleum and Natural gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Monday vowed to continue their nationwide industrial action until their grievances are addressed.

The decision to continue the strike came just as the Federal Government invited the leadership of the two unions for a truce meeting in Abuja.

The meeting, convened by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, would attempt to resolve the crisis, officials said.

The two unions had declared a nationwide warning strike following the expiration of their notice to government for the resolution of some welfare issues affecting their members as well as some national issues they claim are affecting the operation of the petroleum industry.

Some of the issues the workers said they were protesting include the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the sack, by Total Nigeria, of the Port Harcourt PENGASSAN zonal Secretary, Elo Victor.

At the end of the first day of the strike, the unions reported full compliance by its members nationwide even as the action took its toll on Nigerians.

Apart from the closure of some of the country’s oil installations, there were long queues of motorists at filling stations, while the unions said petroleum products depots in Lagos and other major cities remained shut.

At Ejigbo depot, the report said some tankers that were loading at the beginning of the strike action earlier in the day were initially restricted, before being ordered out of the depot.

Similar depots in Apapa owned by Mobil Oil and Oando PLC, the report said, observed total compliance, as they did not open for business, while NUPENG members at Total depot maintained skeletal services until mid-day when they were forced to close for the day.

The situation in Warri, Delta State, saw NUPENG members milling around their duty posts in red shirts without rendering normal services, while their counterparts in Port Harcourt, including those in the upstream and midstream oil and gas locations, also refused to work.

The situation was not different in Abuja as most offices belonging to oil and gas industry operators complied fully with the directives by their national bodies to down tools.

As the strike action began in Abuja, workers who reported to work at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) headquarters, were forced out at about 11.45 a.m.

PENGASSAN members visited offices in the headquarters to ensure full mobilization of members for the strike, while some NUPENG members also visited some oil-related agencies to enforce compliance.

In Kaduna, the entrances of the Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company were shut, while normal loading of petroleum products was suspended.

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