Oil workers threatens nationwide strike from January 1 2014


pengassan_0_4The country should prepare itself for another round of industrial action, as oil workers say they woud embark on a nationwide strike as from January 1, 2014.

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Speaking in Abuja yesterday, National President of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Babatunde Ogun, while addressing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) workers at the NNPC Towers on government planned privatisation of refineries,called for a reversal of the decision. He advised the government to reverse the said decision between now and December 24.

He warned that both PENGASSAN and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), will not issue any new notice to government on its planned industrial action.

While declaring the date for the commencement of the strike, Ogun said: “Our message is very clear: if between now and December 24, government fails to cancel the planned privatization of the refineries, we will wait for the Yuletide period to come and then mobilize between that time and first week in January 2014, the entire oil and gas workers in Nigeria to go on total strike and shutdown the economy.

“If by the end of this year, retraction does not come from government and a firm commitment to push for the passage of the PIB, we will go on strike. Government, through this address is therefore put on alert on our demands. There will be no further engagements until our demands are met.”

Ogun blamed successive governments for “frustrating the revival of the refineries by erecting policy obstacles and refusing to supplant business model that has not worked.”

According to him, “Nobody is interested in putting the refineries back to working ways.”

“The materials needed to do the Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) have been bought but are deliberately being kept somewhere until the refineries are sold before they are released to the buyers. This is meant to ensure the refineries are working immediately they are privatized and thereby deceive Nigerians. This is the gimmick that was adopted in selling the Eleme Petrochemical Company where materials were bought and intentionally refused to install them until after it was sold to Indorama who are now bragging that the sprawling complex is working while using the materials bought by the Federal Government to make it work.

“Why not install those materials and hand them over to the workers and then see if the complex will not work? he asked.

“This is the same line of tricks that the Federal Government is embarking upon now again. The workers have the capacity to resist this. In the light of the above, we tell government to reverse the sale plan or face total industrial action from the first week of 2014.”

The president however gave conditions that could avert the action.

“The Federal Government must ensure that it puts all machineries in motion to ensure early passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), include the workers in the sale plan and cancel the plan to sell the refineries before the end of the first quarter of 2014. For the past six years, investments in the Nigeria’s oil and gas sector have been on standstill because of the non-passage of the PIB.

“Nobody in government is interested in the passage of the PIB; they are only interested in selling the refineries to their cronies so they will have a place to collect dividends when they leave office. PIB holds the ace to the myriad of challenges confronting our industry today. With the passage of PIB, investment will return because investors will know the national agenda and direction on oil policies and their projection into the future.”

Ogun further posited that going by the situation, where new distribution companies now charge more for power supply, Nigerians cannot trust the government “to ensure the new owners of the refineries, when sold, will guarantee better services and keep the national assets in good condition.”

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsolahttps://naija247news.com
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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