Oil workers strikes over restructuring

NNPC Tower

NNPC Tower

Unions shut down operations at Nigeria’s state oil firm Wednesday in protest at restructuring plans, a spokesman said, in a move that could worsen fuel supplies in Africa’s largest producer.

“Operations at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have been grounded nationwide,” said Babatunde Oke, of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN).

It followed a call by PENGASSAN and its junior workers counterpart NUPENG to protest “the unilateral decision of the minister of state for petroleum Ibe Kachukwu to unbundle the NNPC”.

Kachukwu, who also doubles as the head of the NNPC, announced the said the restructuring was to make the company more efficient and profitable.

The NNPC has long been accused of inefficiency and withholding billions of dollars in government oil revenue, prompting an overhaul aimed a boosting transparency and cutting corruption.

Oke said the unions were concerned about the effect of the planned restructuring on their members.

“We have asked our members in NNPC to withdraw their services until the minister is ready to engage us on the matter,” he added.

The workers action would hit the loading of petrol at NNPC depots, worsening already dwindling supplies that in the last two weeks have seen long queues form again at Nigerian filling stations.

Despite being Africa’s biggest crude producer, Nigeria has to import petroleum products because of a lack of capacity at its four functioning domestic refineries.

The government keeps prices at the pump low and pays the difference with the international market rate to fuel importers, who have frequently held the country to ransom over unpaid revenue.

The oil sector accounts for 70 percent of government revenue but has been hit by the global fall in crude since mid-2014, weakening the naira currency and forcing up the cost of living.

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  • ikpo mari

    Restructuring NNPC is over due and the split into 7 units with their various MDs is very welcome. Having said that the workers must be carried along. You cannot carry out a successful restructuring without the input of the stakeholders. The minister must as a matter of urgency and in the interest of the citizens meet with PENGASSAN/NUPENG to discuss the restructuring and how it affects their members. This is a democratic process.

    • Mazi JO

      The same Democratic process that kept them dormant while trillions of dollars of their production was wheeled out to every Bank outside the Nation. This action is not for now Ladies and Gentlemen. We are speeding for recovery. The times are delicate. No one should puncture the tires. I wish this action(the strike) was happening when Oil was at $146.00 a barrel. It could have made excellent sense.

  • emmanuel kalu

    it is long over due the need to restructure this giant wasteful corporation. The unions have to be careful not to over play their hand with all this work actions across the board. They might begin to be impediment to progress and turn the people against them.

  • Mazi JO

    Big mistake and an ill-advised timing. Where were this selfish labor philosophers when oil was almost the total National revenue in our Economy. Those are the times Labor needed to streamline the welfare of its membership not now Ibe is struggling to put the future of that Corporation in perspective given the near naught of Oil prices. I have continually wondered why labor has been this dormant in the economic debate but the sudden surfacing now is rigged with indiscretion. The Nation is charting a new course and the intransigent disruption by labor now is intolerable. Labor should not lay its head on a platter. Unemployment is rife. There are cadres of graduates all over the place. Is it better to continue working until things set or to blame the Government for biting the bullet and looking for replacements? The auspices, hang in the balance for all. Please go back to work and time your agitations exquisitely. Do not let your leadership run away with your reasons.

  • amador kester

    Restructuring or otherwise belongs to management to decide. Workers cannot usurp management function unless management is weak.. Or possibly these workers or labour leaders benefitted from the rot in an unrestructured system

  • Objectivity View

    NNPC currently cannot generate enough revenue to pay salaries, not to talk of funding the lavish life style of its staff. The corporation holds back proceeds from oil and gas sales meant for the federation account. The rogues are protesting because the stealing game is over. Kachikwu’s next action is to fire the rogues who claim not to have been consulted, as if they consulted Nigerians before stealing their money over the years. Bloody bastards!