The two main unions for workers in the Nigerian oil and gas industry on Friday gave the Federal Government 14 days ultimatum to intervene in the alleged victimisation of some of their colleagues by multinational oil firms or risk industrial action.
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Natural Gas, NUPENG, workers and their counterparts in Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, issued the ultimatum at the end of their joint National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Abuja.
A communique signed by NUPENG President, Achese Igwe, and his PENGASSAN counterpart, Francis Johnson, said government should also consider other pressing issues that were affecting the smooth operation of the country’s oil and gas industry.
According to Mr. Johnson, the unions were compelled to issue the threat to withdraw their services in the oil sector to draw government’s attention to those pressing issues in the oil sector.
He identified the issues to include the irregular transfer and sacking of national officers of the two unions by Total Nigeria and ExxonMobil; continued casualisation of labour in the industry, and violation of workers’ right to unionisation at the Export Free Zone in Rivers State.
Other issued, Mr. Johnson said, were the rising incidence of crude oil pipeline vandalism and oil theft, the non-passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, the growing state of terrorism and kidnappings in the country, non-payment of terminal benefits of workers whose appointments were terminated as well as irregular appointments inconsistent with management structure in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The PENGASSAN president said the decision to issue the ultimatum to government was a last resort after exhausting all avenues to resolve the issues through dialogue.
On his part, the NUPENG president said the unions were left with no better alternative than embarking on strike after the engagement with the group managing director of NNPC, Joseph Dawha, failed to resolve the issues.
Mr. Igwe said the unions also met with the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Deziani Alison-Maduekwe, the State Security Service, and the management of the affected oil firms to no avail.
The leadership of the two unions, Mr. Achese said, had pleaded with them to reverse the sacking and transfer of the union leaders in their companies without success.
The two officials called on the leadership of the National Assembly to give accelerated hearing to the PIB to ensure its passage into law as the current law establishing the NNPC had become obsolete.
Deliberations on the proposed oil industry law has lingered for the past two years without any significant progress towards its passage.
They advised the Federal Government to treat the issue of dilapidated roads leading to most of the petroleum facilities with urgency, as the loss of lives of most of their members on those roads have become most intolerable.
Besides, the unions urged the Federal Government to provide necessary facilities to upgrade the Petroleum Training Institute, PTI, Effurun, Delta State, in consonance with its approved status as petroleum university in the country.