The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has commenced a nationwide three-day warning strike over unfair labour practices by some oil companies.
As a result, fuel scarcity looms as the union has directed petroleum tanker drivers not to load products in all fuel depots and tank farms across the country during the period of the warning strike.
Already some leading filling stations like Total and Oando in the nation’s capital were shut Monday and some transporters have begun to increase their fares, while others have commenced panic buying.
The national president of NUPENG, Achese Igwe, explained that Agip Oil Company recently promoted 96 of its contract workers to the level of senior staff casual workers, instead of first converting them to full staff employees of the company.
“The law states that beyond six months you should convert them to employees. If you don’t want to convert them, then you leave them as contract workers till you are ready. But promoting them to senior staff level (PENGASSAN) is to do what? Is it to still serve as contract staff or slaves for more years? So this country must change in culture of job regulations,” he said.
Chevron too is accused of converting workers from contract labour to service labour and the Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC is said to have refused a collective bargaining agreement with casual workers and also denied them the right to join a union, among others.
“We want to see a serious commitment on the side of government on this issue. A situation where a company like Agip will want to promote NUPENG contract workers to PENGASSAN contract workers has never happened anywhere in the world.”
Achese said the union initially issued an ultimatum to the company but since then, there has not been any improvement.
Agip is also accused of sacking 93 contract workers that had put in between 25 and 35 years, without benefits despite directives by the ministry of labour and productivity.
He argued that if the agreements reached with the multinational companies at a meeting called by the labour minister, Emeka Wogu, in May 2012, was implemented, these issues would have been resolved.
NUPENG is also protesting the alleged refusal of National Association of Road Transport Owners, NARTO, to implement the signed collective bargaining agreement with tanker drivers and the impassable state of the Nigerian roads.
It warned that should government and other stakeholders fail to address its grievances after the three-day warning strike, it would declare an indefinite strike.
The union therefore, called on the federal government to summon an all-stakeholders’ national conference on oil and gas to address, among others, labour issues in the sector before the expiration of the three days strike to avert a national crisis.