The Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Monday shutdown the operations of Gulf Treasures Limited, one of the few depots supplying petrol since the beginning of the current crisis, an action that might worsen supply.
The closure was carried out by the Lagos Zonal Office of the union, who operator of the depot accused of highhandedness and arbitrariness. The closure, which was forcefully carried out, almost led to a conflict as it was protested by employees of the company.
When THISDAY visited the chaotic depot, trucks that were loaded with products could not go out of the depot for delivery. There was apprehension in the company as employees and customers were in shock.
An investigation revealed that the depot had been under a siege by the tanker drivers. According to one of the staff who did not want his name disclosed, the union has long hijacked activities at the depot as they impose arbitrary dues on customers and even the truck drivers on the companyâ€™s payroll.
Confirming this, Head of Operations of the company, Isaiah Alibi, expressed worry that the action of the union could cripple the industry except it was brought under control.
He said: â€œOur management has tried to avoid the situation we are in now by engaging in dialogue with the union members. But they have remained adamant and continued with their impunity. The way they go about this is not right. Where do people constitute themselves into stakeholders over a business they have no stake?â€
According to Alibi, the company had continued to engage the union who only continued to ask for more.
He alleged that the union executives were asking for about four times what the company was giving them.
â€œMost of the people doing this are union executives in other places they work but prevent our drivers from doing their jobs. As if this is not enough, they attack the company that employs the drivers. Union cannot forcefully take over our company; the management has been quiet on this for too long. This probably gives them the room to advance their evil mission.
â€œNow, they donâ€™t want to accept the negotiated dues we pay them. They want four times more. The company has been operating at a lost for over two years but they donâ€™t care because it is not their business. Our staff have been on 30 per cent salary since March, yet the union wants over 250 per cent increase in the dues we pay.
â€œIf urgent steps are not taken, over 600 members of our staff will lose their jobs to tanker driversâ€™ handedness. Government should immediately step in to save our jobs. Our business and workers should not be sacrificed for tanker driversâ€™ union,â€ he said.