The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG) has threatened to commence an industrial action following the decision of the Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC) to sack over 175 causal workers.
The workers said nothing would stop them from going on strike in the next 48 hours if PHRC failed to rescind its decision.
The Port Harcourt Zone of NUPENG said it would stop the operations of all tanker drivers, petrol station workers and others if PHRC refused to recall the sacked workers.
The zonal Chairman of the union, Mr. Mina Samuel, who spoke in Port Harcourt yesterday, described the action of the PHRC as insensitive.
He said it was unfortunate that the company chose a period others were protecting the rights of workers across the world to sack its employees.
Samuel said it was unthinkable that workers would suffer such while struggling to survive the COVID-19 lockdown.
He said: “The Port Harcourt Zone of NUPENG may be forced to come out of its shell as a result of PHRC management action, to withdraw the supply of petroleum products within Port Harcourt Zone if the PHRC fails to reverse its decision with immediate effect.
“Consequently, the Port Harcourt Zonal Council of NUPENG is by this notice giving PHRC management 72 hours from today, the 2nd of April 2020, to direct its contractors to withdraw all termination letters issued to all NUPENG members in their employment. Hence, we advise that Port Harcourt Reﬁnery management engage the union once normalcy returns to the state if need be.
“The management’s action or inaction may leave the union with the option of calling out all NUPENG members within Port Harcourt Zone, including petrol tanker drivers and petrol station workers, who are currently taking the risk of rendering essential services to the nation, to halt supply of petroleum product and give solidarity to the affected workers.”
Also speaking, the National Treasurer of NUPENG, Mr. Alex Agwangwor, appealed to PHRC to avoid creating economic crisis in Rivers amidst the COVID-19 pressure.
He said: “The union wants to use this medium to call on the Federal and Rivers State Governments, all stakeholders, relevant authorities and law enforcement agencies, who are working tirelessly at this critical time within the zone to caution the PHRC management.
“This is necessary to avoid a total shutdown of the supply of petroleum products in Rivers State and its environs, which may inadvertently worsen the precarious situation.
“In the same vein, we want to apologise to the general public in advance for any inconvenience this may cause should the PHRC refuse to bulge and allow wise counsel prevail at this point where all hands are on deck to tackle the dangerous coronavirus.”