Fuel scarcity looms as oil workers strike over PIB, alleged sack of official

Fuel scarcityNigeria’s two main oil workers’ unions said they would launch an indefinite strike on Monday, threatening to hurt the output of Africa’s largest oil producer.

“The strike will affect all operations in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, as members will be withdrawn from all oil and gas installations,” the unions said in a joint statement on Sunday.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) said the action was aimed at forcing the passage of a new law and meeting several other longstanding demands.

These include the adoption of the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) aimed at overhauling the inefficient and corrupt sector and tackling unfair labour practises by both oil companies and government agencies.

The unions said the strike call was also a reaction to “the inability of the government to carry out turnaround maintenance of the refineries” and its failure to reduce petrol prices at the pump to reflect the fall in global oil prices.

They said workers had been mobilised and that the action would “not be suspended” until the government and operators showed “a strong commitment” to resolve the issues.

They accused the government of failing to keep its promises to maintain the refineries and ensure they had an adequate supply of crude oil, as well as neglecting to combat pipeline vandalism.

The unions also demanded improvements to the country’s notoriously neglected roads.

Despite its oil wealth Nigeria imports much of its fuel due to a lack of refining capacity.

THE workers are also angry over the alleged sacking of the Zonal Secretary of PENGASSAN, Port Harcourt Zone, Elo Ogbonda, by Total Exploration and Production.

Mrs Ogbonda, according to reports, was earlier transferred from Port Harcourt to Lagos so that she would lose her position in PENGASSAN.

Punch on Sunday reported that NUPENG’s National President, Mr. Achese Igwe, told newsmen during the union’s thanksgiving service at the All Saints Anglican Church in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, that the decision to embark on strike became necessary since the management of Total E&P had refused to reinstate Ogbonda.