Oil workers strikes over restructuring
“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.