Oil workers have urged the Federal Government to resolve the lingering labour issues in the oil and gas industry to avoid an industrial unrest.
The workers, acting under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), warned that the issues it had with international oil companies (IOCs) could threaten the peace in the industry.
It warned that if the government failed to intervene, it would go on a three-day warning strike in January before embarking on a nation-wide strike.
Speaking with The Nation, its President, Igwe Achese, said NUPENG would resist any divestment by the multinationals that did not carry the workers along. He promised a show-down with the multinationals over non-payment of terminal benefits to 48 contract workers and 250 contract workers terminated in Lagos and Port Harcourt by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC), among others.
“We will embark on a three-day warning strike nation-wide in January as a result of these unresolved labour issues with multinationals operating in the oil and gas industry.
“This decision was taken at the end of our National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Port Harcourt. The warning strike is preparatory to a nation-wide strike if there is no intervention by the Federal Government,” Achese said.
He said the January date would be communicated to all members.
He said union members should wear a red band on their arm to work from next week while Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) are to put green leaves on their tankers preparatory to the commencement of the warning strike next month.
He said the Union believes that whatever goodwill the government has to encourage investors to the economy should not lead to job . Rather, it should lead to job creation.
He said: “The unresolved labour related issues which made the Union to issue a 21-day ultimatum for the Federal Government’s intervention include the non-payment of terminal benefits to 48 contract staff and 250 contract staff terminated in Lagos and Port Harcourt by the Nigeria Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
“The others are the refusal of Exxon Mobil Producing to reinstate over 200 NUPENG members sacked through its directives to her labour contractors despite ultimatum jointly issued by NUPENGASSAN.
“The Chevron issue include the total closure of the company’s Eastern operations through divestment, refusal to discuss the redundancy terms and its refusal to facilitate the formation of Chevron labour Contractors Forum to interface with NUPENG.”
Achese said Chevron’s refusal to allow workers to unionise was causing industrial relations tension.
Some of the issues, according to him, include Tecon Oil Services Management reneging on the communiqué signed with the Union on offloading the severance benefits of its members working with the company.
Others involve Pan Ocean’s non-implementation of annual salary increase for NUPENG members in the company simce 2014 till date.