Fuel scarcity looms as oil workers threaten strike from Monday

Fuel scarcity may spread across Nigeria
from Monday as oil workers brace for showdown with the Federal
Government over various unresolved labour issues.

Authoritative sources revealed on Sunday that the oil workers, under
the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association
[PENGASSAN] and their counterparts in the National Union of Petroleum
and Natural Gas Workers [NUPENG], are set to commence nationwide strike
The decision to strike is sequel to the expiration of the
notice to government for the resolution of some labour issues affecting
their members as well as other national issues affecting the operation
of the petroleum industry.

A national official of PENGASSAN, who asked not to be named because
he was not authorised to speak on the matter, told PREMIUM TIMES that
some of the contentious issues include the decision of the management of
Total Nigeria to sack the PENGASSAN zonal Secretary in Port Harcourt
and the lack of promotion for workers of the Petroleum Trust Development
Fund (PTDF).

According to the official, the workers’ unions are concerned that
the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) sent to the National Assembly for
consideration and approval more than two years ago is yet to be passed.

“We (the oil workers) have sufficient reasons, based on information
available to us, to believe that the law makers are not prepared to pass
the law, even as the state of the country’s petroleum industry has
continued to deteriorate as a result of the absence of a regulatory and
legal framework for the industry,” the official said.

Part of the information available to the oil workers, he said, have
to do with a plot by the Senate to move a motion on resumption this
week to demand the setting aside of further considerations and
deliberations on the PIB till the next legislative session.

The PIB was one of the key draft laws handed over by the previous
legislative assembly for deliberation and approval by the incumbent

“This does not augur well for the future of the country’s oil
industry, as new investments would continue to elude the country, to the
benefit of other oil producing nations around the continent, if the law
is not passed. This is not acceptable,” the official said.

Besides, the oil workers said they have uncovered plans by the
government to go ahead with the sale of the country’s four refineries,
which has always met stiff resistance by Nigerians in recent past.

For some time now, the oil workers said crude oil allocation to the
refineries for local petroleum products refining have consistently
reduced from 60 to 30 per cent and then to zero.

The plan by government, the unions said, is to make the refineries
appear unviable and their rehabilitation impossible as a way of making
their eventual sale attractive to Nigerians.

The unions are also protesting against alleged poor funding to the
Petroleum Training Institute [PTI], which was established as the
technology training institution for the country’s petroleum industry.

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