Strike: Govt to meet oil workers today

18 December 2014, Lagos – Tuesday’s meeting between the leadership of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, and the Federal Government to resolve the strike by the workers failed to hold.

One of our correspondents gathered from government and labour officials that the meeting had been rescheduled for Thursday.

Confirming this in a telephone interviewy, the Chairman, NUPENG, Lagos Zone, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said, “Our planned meeting with the Federal Government slated for Abuja today did not hold again. The meeting has been postponed to Thursday.”

He, however, said that NUPENG had yet to join the strike.

He confirmed loading at the Apapa and Mosimi depots despite the strike, adding that NUPENG was on the standby to join PENGASSAN in the strike if the contentious issues were not quickly resolved.

Korodo also confirmed that petroleum tanker drivers were working as they had yet to join the strike.

There are, however, fears that some marketers may start hoarding products if the strike continues.

In the early hours of Monday, trucks were seen loading products at the depots situated at Apapa, Lagos, contrary to fears that activities would be totally paralysed by the strike.

An oil marketer based in Apapa told one of our correspondents that trucks waiting to leave Lagos for other states were being constrained by the Petroleum Equalisation Fund processes.

The PEF is a parastatal of the Federal Government established by law to equalise the cost of transporting petroleum products from the depots to filling stations across the country. This is to ensure that petroleum products are made available at uniform prices throughout Nigeria.

To operate the price equalisation mechanism, marketers whose filling stations are located close to the depots contribute to the equalisation fund, while those with stations farther away from the depots make claims from the PEF.

Meanwhile, queues of desperate motorists at filing stations in Abuja grew longer on Tuesday at the few outlets that sold refined petroleum products on the second day of the nationwide industrial action embarked upon by workers.

The workers, under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas, had on Monday commenced a three-day warning strike to push for the implementation of their demands by the Federal Government.

The strike and its resultant effects slowed down business activities in the Federal Capital Territory as many filing stations were shut to customers.

Only few stations dispensed products to customers, a development that caused long queues in the city.

Our correspondent observed that the presence of black marketers on major roads in the city increased immensely as they cashed in on the scarcity of the products to make quick money.

The Federal Government had announced on Monday that it would hold a meeting with the aggrieved workers and other stakeholders in the sector in order address the concerns raised by the unions.

Labour union officials told our correspondent that they were optimistic that the meeting would “once and for all put an end to most of the concerns of oil workers in Nigeria.”

A motorist at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s mega station along the Abuja-Zuba Expressway, Anayo Kenechukwu, said he passed the night at the station in search of fuel.

“I exhausted the fuel in my car yesterday (Monday) evening and I got here late. I decided to sleep in my car while on the queue so that I will be among the first persons to be served fuel. Thank God they are selling now, because most stations have refused to sell,” he said.

Although the NNPC gave an assurance that the strike would not dislocate the robust distribution and sale of products to members of the public, the reality on ground in Abuja on Tuesday proved otherwise.

The Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, had said the corporation was in talks with the leadership of the unions who had given an assurance that they would not disrupt the fuel supply and distribution system as the strike was basically aimed at addressing the anti-labour issues by some of the international oil companies.




– The Punch

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