Pengassan Oil Union Renews Strike

Pengassan has given the Nigerian government two more weeks to abandon plans to sell state oil company NNPC. If the government does not stop its plans for privatization of NNPC it would face a strike action by the union. The union's previous 21-day ultimatum expired last week. They also renewed their call on government to intervene in the long-standing industrial dispute between it and ChevronTexaco. The union is claiming that local Texaco staff have been unfairly treated as a result of last year's merger between the Chevron Nigeria Ltd and Texaco Overseas Producing Company. "We have extended the 21-day ultimatum earlier given for a further period of 14 days to enable the management of ChevronTexaco and NNPC to meet our demands," the union's national president Shina Luwoye said. He said Pengassan and the blue collar Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Union have set up a joint action committee to work out modalities for a nationwide strike if the union's demands were not addressed by September 4.

The union reiterated that the privatization of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation would not serve Nigeria's strategic interests and would lead to unnecessary job cuts. "Recent happenings have revealed that the privatization exercise is a charade," Luwoye said. "We therefore cannot fold our arms and watch helplessly the mortgaging of our future and that of generations yet unborn." Last month, Pengassan whose members are drawn from oil multinationals producing Nigeria's mainstay crude oil, said it would commence the strike with a two-day warning strike which "will be followed by a series of industrial actions which will have a far-reaching effect on Nigeria's oil and gas sector."

Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration commercialized the operations of the NNPC in May, as a first major step towards its planned privatization next year. More than a dozen NNPC subsidiaries have been listed for sale and Nigeria's privatization agency BPE said in January it would begin the sale of the four NNPC refineries before the end of the year.