Official: NUPENG will still go on strike

By The Rainbow

The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) said Thursday it has not shelved its planned strike action against the planned sale of the country’s four refineries.

The union, through its president, Igwe Achese, said that the media reports indicating that it had suspended the strike action were misinformed and full of distortions.

The Federal Government late December constituted a committee headed by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, to work out modalities for the sale of the four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna.

But, since the announcement of the plans by the Federal Government, oil workers unions have condemned the proposal, threatening to call out their member on strike to protest the decision.

A similar decision to sell the refineries by the Obasanjo administration precipitated a crisis by the oil workers that was suspended only when the late Musa Yar’Adua administration rescinded the plan.

Though indications on Monday were that the planned strike had been suspended, the President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, clarified on Wednesday in Lagos that the union’s position was still that the decision by the Federal Government to privatise the country’s four refineries was taken in a haste.

Mr. Achese said that the union members resolved to oppose the sale of the refineries after deep review of the plan

According to Achese,  members in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries was embarking on daily prayer sessions to call for God’s intervention, to prevail on the government to reconsider its decision on the issue.

The union leader called on its members to intensify the prayer sessions, as a prelude to the nationwide strike planned for later this week. He said that the meeting scheduled by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Emeka Wogu, to discuss the issue would be futile if the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, would not be involved.

NUPENG and its senior staff affiliate, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, had in December 2013 threatened to embark on a nationwide strike in January to protest the decision to sell the refineries.

The two unions said the decision would only be averted if the Federal Government reversed its decision to privatise the country’s four refineries.