NUPENG begins strike in Delta State over unionisation
• Gives military 24-hour ultimatum to withdraw soldiers from two oil firms
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has accused two foreign oil firms, Sterling Energy Exploration Company (SEEPCO) and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Limited (BOGEL), of frustrating the legitimate demand of their workers to join the union.
NUPENG argued that five drilling oil-rigs operated by SEEPCO and its drilling arm in Kwale and Warri, Delta State, had been in operation for several years but the management denied the workers their rights to unionise.
President of NUPENG, Williams Akporeha, who spoke at a press conference yesterday, said the union had directed its members in Delta State to withdraw services in protest of the unfortunate situation, adding that if the oil firms refuse to be called to order, they will embark on a nationwide strike.
Besides, NUPENG has given the Nigerian Army a 24-hour ultimatum to withdraw its officers from the premises of the foreign oil firms, over forceful evacuation and abrupt termination of workers’ appointment.
Akporeha, who expressed disappointment at the military for succumbing to the level of frustrating workers who identified with the law of belonging to the union, said the union had written to the Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Tukur Buratai, for his officers to be immediately removed from the oil firms, as the issue on ground is an industrial relation matter and a terrorist situation.
He accused the heavily armed soldiers of distributing new employment forms of non-identification with union to the oil workers if they must remain on the job.
The NUPENG president said rather that follow the path of decency and global best practices, management of the firms resulted to high-handedness and violence through the use of military officers and armed militias to forcibly evacuate no fewer than 2,500 employees from five drilling rigs.
The union, which called on Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to immediately intervene to avoid turning the state into an industrial crisis zone, said it is also seeking the intervention of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), security agencies and other stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to arrest the imminent industrial crisis.