Nigerian oil workers call open-ended strike

They want refinery maintenance, pump prices for fuel reduced and an end to unfair labor practices

Nigerian oil workers call open-ended strike
World Bulletin/News Desk
Nigerian oil workers on Monday went on strike to demand that the government address their longstanding grievances.

"[We have declared] an indefinite strike, not a warning strike," Bayo Olowoshile, secretary-general of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, told The Anadolu Agency in a telephone interview.

"It is a strike to draw the attention of the government to the issues reported to them," he said.

The strike action also involves another oil workers' union, the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers.

Olowoshile said workers had gone on strike after a series of "unproductive meetings" with government representatives and other key stakeholders over issues concerning the oil sector.

"The issues basically are lack of commitment to refinery turnaround maintenance, crude oil supply and the issue of [static] petroleum pump price as against the falling price of crude," he explained.

Nigeria, which is Africa's top oil producer, has four refineries, which experts say work well below average – even though millions of dollars are committed each year to turnaround maintenance.

The country imports most of its domestic petrol consumption. One liter of fuel continues to retail for 97 naira (roughly $.54).

"We also have other issues that touch on the welfare of our members, such as unfair labor practices, arbitrary termination of employment by oil companies and government agencies, and the issue of workplace rights that are being denied by a number of operators," said Olowoshile.

"We want these matters to be addressed. This is why this strike is on now," he asserted.

He said that attempts to get the government to address their grievances had "broken down" due to the lack of "genuine commitment" by stakeholders and government.

"As soon as the government is ready for a genuine resolution and commitment to the issues raised, we will not take one day longer to resolve this matter amicably," said the union leader.

"This is what we want. Let stakeholders and partners meet and let's address the issues so we can achieve a consensual outcome," he added.

Oil workers want pump prices for fuel reduced.

"It's not just about us. Apart from many of the issues affecting us directly as workers, we have a duty to the people of this country," Olowoshile told AA.

"The government has repeatedly said it is the forces of supply and demand that dictate prices," he said.

"When the price of crude oil was $140 per barrel, the government said the price had to be 97 Nigerian naira. Now, the crude oil price is as low as $60 per barrel. Should Nigerians not benefit from the price reduction?" he asked.

"Are we going to continue to buy fuel at the same price?" he wondered aloud.

Government spokesmen were not available to comment on the workers' strike. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 15 Aralık 2014, 16:50