Labour grounds power, fuel supply over NNPC’s unbundling

DSC_4010• Corporation’s workers begin indefinite strike
• Kachikwu allays fear of job loss
• Queues may persist at filling stations
• Senate to intervene today

Economic activities across the country took a severe blow yesterday following an industrial action embarked upon by workers under the aegis of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and affiliate groups during which electricity installations and petroleum depots belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were shut down.

The angry workers barricaded offices and facilities of the NNPC in protest against splitting into several other business units of the state oil company by the Federal Government on Tuesday.

Later yesterday, workers of the NNPC declared an indefinite strike. The NNPC Group Chairman of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), Odudu Udofia, who disclosed this yesterday in Abuja, berated the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, for alleged policy inconsistency.

He said: “The group executive council of both NUPENG and PENGASSAN NNPC has directed all its members to proceed on an indefinite strike from 12 midnight of 8th March 2016 due to the pronouncement of the Minister of State for Petroleum/GMD on NNPC unbundling.”

While stating that the unions were not against reformation of the corporation, Udofia stressed that the restructuring of the NNPC by the minister has been shrouded in secrecy for a long period without involving or carrying any of the stakeholders along.

The union observed that the reduction of the directorates from seven to four in the first rejig was applauded because it was hinged on cost reduction and effectiveness. He then wondered why the increase from four to the same seven this time around.

Besides, he hinted that the existing condition of service for workers that are already working in the existing directorates who may be transferred to the newly subsets have not been agreed upon by the labour unions and government before the announcement of the reorganisation.

“There is inconsistency and general lack of accountability of the corporation as evident by somersaults in policy by the minister. The directorate structure was initially trimmed down as a cost-saving measure. This was applauded because it is in line with the intention of government. However, the same structure that was dropped is now back in disguise with only change in nomenclature. How are we sure very soon we will not have reasons to change it again?” he queried.

Udofia said that the restructure process would lead to direct and indirect job losses and change in condition of services that would affect existing staff welfare.

He also stated that bringing pension matters under the NNPC Venture clearly undermines the provision of the Pension Reforms Act 2004, which is clear on the independence of pension management.

He added: “The refineries are supposed to be independent in the unbundling process. But the basics of independence have not been addressed. Crude supply, turnaround maintenance and the enabling environment have not been provided for them to be independent.”

But the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, said yesterday, that there was no cause for alarm over actions taken by labour unions, as efforts were on going to resolve the crisis.

The atmosphere at the NNPC Tower headquarters of the NNPC showed the workers were not convinced the re-organisation would not lead to mass job losses as they are not getting any comfort from the fact that all the nearly 90 senior managers at the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) recalled to the headquarters last year November have not been given any responsibilities.

Indeed, The Guardian investigations showed that the action was already taking its toll on business and domestic activities, as Kaduna Refinery and many filling stations remained shut. At the Port Harcourt Refinery and zonal office of NNPC in the city, business activities came to a halt.

NUPENG group secretary, Uche Amara, told The Guardian the refinery had been shut down because aggrieved workers were protesting against the decision to unbundle the NNPC without recourse to due process and adequate consultation with critical stakeholders. He cautioned that if the issues at stake were not expeditiously resolved, Nigerians would from today begin to feel the impact of the industrial action which might affect the distribution of petroleum products.

Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday said it would start debating the Federal Government’s decision to unbundle the NNPC. Senate President, Bukola Saraki, directed the Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, to formally present a motion which would be extensively debated at plenary today.

The protesters shut down Kaduna refinery, preventing workers from gaining entry. The unions alleged that they were not consulted before decisions on the unbundling, which they described as unacceptable, were taken, insisting that the minister invite them for discussion before embarking on any action that has to do with their welfare.

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  • Darlington

    Ibe Kachikwu is being enmeshed in policy somersaults. Today subsidy has been removed, tomorrow subsidy is still running.. How can Buhari unbundled NNPC without first repealing the Act of Parliament that established it in the first place. If Buhari is an illiterate tyrant, who does respect the laws of the land. What of Ibe Kachikwu? Change without rule of law is worse than corruption.

    • amador kester

      They didnt unbundle, they restructured and the minister has right to restructure or not to restructure, labour cannot emerge as a psychoneurotic interloper to usurp those rights,the employee cannot become the ultimate decision maker. If they were not consulted that could have been dialogued upon without grounding the nation.. Irresponsibility reigns boldly as style and no nation survives systemic anarchy


    Are we dancing backward or twisting in our approach to good economic realities without due respect to stakeholders or we think we can do it alone mentality of African leadership style that are still keeping us as a slogan in the lips of our colonial masters is doing well for us? Is time we think twice because Ummaru Dikko in his blessed memory said that Nigeria is not for sale to the highest bidder. Imagine soldiers flogging women who were on protest and come out giving reasons as if they don;t have mothers at home or they were boned by spirit. Our leaders should know that salutation is not love and that GOD the Omnipotent is watching us because what happened to Caesar can happen to anybody even Nebuchadnezzar..

  • amador kester

    Labour is thoughtless,brutal raw power personified and institutionalized in the elemental sense of which no means is excluded in the attainment of its egocentric goals even if that means grounding the nation to the stalemate of a socioeconomic stasis. Nothing had ever been deliberated anywhere as to how to checkmate this corrupt,fetish monster that resists every accountable change

  • austino77

    The best way to go is to totally scrap the Mother of Corruption called NNPC. Government should go back to collecting royalties, corporation taxes and petroleum profits tax from oil companies. NNPC has been a disaster, an agency enriching a few and sentencing majority directly and indirectly to poverty.

  • Babalakin

    NLC has completely lost it. i want to advise them to go through a legal means and bills to fight their course and not disrupt the progress of the country. sponsor and present bills to aid the workers you are fighting for and let us see if it will not pass through the house. to some of us, you are completely off target.