In what is aimed at preventing an early New Year crisis, the Federal Government is wading into the face-off between petroleum workers’ union and some oil companies operating in Nigeria. The move followed the announced plan by the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to proceed on a three-day warning strike from January 11, in protest against alleged violation of the country’s extant labour laws and anti-workers disposition of the oil companies.
The Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment, under Chris Ngige, has summoned a tripartite meeting involving labour, representatives of the affected oil companies and government officials to find a way around the issues for which NUPENG is insisting on the strike.
“The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment is intervening. They have called us for a meeting on January 11 in Abuja. We wonder why the meeting is fixed same day we are starting the strike. Notwithstanding, what I can tell you further is that if our demands are not met at the meeting, we would go ahead with the strike,” Joseph Ogbebor, general secretary of NUPENG, said.
Igwe Achese, president of NUPENG, who announced the oil workers’ planned strike in December 2016, said it was the decision of the national executive council (NEC) of the union, which met in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. He said the three-day warning strike was preparatory to a nationwide strike if there was no intervention by the Federal Government.
Among the major issues alleged by the union were the total closure of the Chevron’ eastern operations through divestment and refusal to discuss the redundancy terms, and its refusal to facilitate the formation of Chevron labour Contractors Forum to interface with NUPENG. Chevron’s refusal to allow workers to unionise is also causing industrial relations tension.
“The other issues include Tecon Oil Services management reneging on the communiqué signed with the union on offloading the severance benefits of its members working in the companies. Other unresolved labour issues involve Pan Ocean non-implementation of annual salary increase for NUPENG Members in the company from 2014 till date.”