- Says over 3,000 workers laid off and still counting
Sylvester Idowu in Warri
A 21-day ultimatum has been given to the federal government by the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) with effect from yesterday, to redress the mass sack of its members by oil majors or face mass action from the union.
In a communique issued by the Central Working Committee meeting in Warri, Delta State, the union noted that over 3,000 workers have been sacked by oil majors and service companies who were closing shops on account of the current economic recession.
The communique presented to journalists by Igwe Achese, President of NUPENG also reprimanded the federal government for aggravating the crisis in the oil industry by its failure to meet its Joint Venture cash calls and stifling the populace by concentrating on fight against corruption while the economy suffers.
“As I address you, Chevron has wound up its Eastern operations and their offices closed. A total of 1,500 workers were sacked without their entitlements and nobody is saying anything. As we speak, many companies have left, others are winding up.
“ExxonMobil has asked its contract staffs to go, that it can no longer pay them. Pan Ocean, Saipem, Grand Petroleum, Hercules Offshore, all around Warri have closed shops. About 3000 workers have already been sacked by various oil companies.
“Federal government should act fast to avert further lost of jobs. There is too much redundancy in the oil industry. NUPENG will take all necessary action to drive home its demands if government fails to act in 21 days. We are 100 per cent in support in the fight against corruption, but there must be respite for Nigerians.
“Right now, our members and even those in other sectors are no longer able to pay school fees for their children and even afford rents. Worse still, those being sacked now are so treated without commitment to proper terminal benefits,” Achese stated.
On perceived government failure in reviving the oil industry, the union called for urgent passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and federal government regularisation of its JV cash calls while vehemently kicking against the sale of national assets and asking industry regulators to wake up to their responsibilities.
“The CWC in session notes that it is a shame that Ghana which recently discovered oil has passed its PIB into law. We frown at the politics that becloud passage of the PIB in the past eight years when it was first sent to National Assembly.
“CWC frowns at the refusal of and delay in payment of JV cash calls to the multinationals which has created serious liquidity challenges resulting in negotiating redundancies almost on daily basis.
“We x-rayed state of the economy and believe a lot needs to be done to put it on track. The federal government should urgently address the challenges posed by inflation which has risen to 17.9 per cent and the non payment of workers salaries at local and state levels,” he added
NUPENG further called on government through its relevant agencies to stop kidnapping of citizens with introduction of new technologies to track perpetrators of such acts and bring them to book.
It however commended the successes recorded so far in the fight against Boko Haram in the North-east, adding that the federal government should boost morale of its fighting force to improve welfare and armaments in order to completely win the war.