Nigerian oil workers threaten to shut operations

Victor Ahiuma-Young

14 December 2012, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Oil workers in Nigeria have threatened to shut down oil and gas operations in the South East and South South zones of the country over alleged unfair labour practices in Onne Free Trade Zone, near Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

The South East comprises Imo, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi and Anambra states while the South-South is made up of Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, and Benue States.

The workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, issued a three-week ultimatum to owners of the free trade zone to end the alleged unfair labour practices to avoid industrial unrest.

Leaders of NUPENG and PENGASSAN, otherwise known as NUPENGASSAN, who gave the ultimatum in a communiqué at a joint National Executive Council, NEC, meeting in Calabar, Cross River State, expressed deep worry over the continued alleged anti-labour posture of companies operating in the Onne Free Trade Zone.

They recalled that the authorities of the Free Trade Zone and companies operating in the zone had refused to heed the advice by the Labour Minister to respect the constitutional rights of workers to join trade unions and bargain collectively.

According to the communiqué, “Unfortunately, the NEC-in-Session notes that these companies in connivance with the Authority of the Free Trade Zone have continued to deny Nigerian workers these inalienable constitutional rights. We observe that managements of the various companies in the Free Trade Zone continue to harass, intimidate and victimise workers.

“Consequently, NEC-in-Session hereby directs the Port-Harcourt Zone of NUPENG and PENGASSAN to shut down all oil and gas operations in Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra and Benue States if these matters are not resolved within three weeks.”

In the communiqué, the workers also reminded the Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, of the agreement reached at the joint meeting of NUPENGASSAN on 21st September, 2010, at Aldgate Congress Hotel, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State on the Rivers State Social Levy.

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