PENGASSAN Stages Warning Strike

Workers at Mobil Producing Nigeria staged a warning strike to push for better working conditions and compensation. Workers led by the executives of PENGASSAN's Mobil Branch, held demonstrations outside the company's Victoria Island Corporate Headquarters chanting anti-management songs. The demonstration also took place simultaneously at the company's operational base, Qua Iboe Terminal (QIT), in Akwa Ibom State.

Mobil management said it was in talks with union officials to resolve the issue. The warning strike was held following the deadlock in the negotiations between workers and management. The workers are demanding an upward review in their remuneration package in line with industry standard and review of management labor policy, among other things and said the strike would continue should management fail to meet their demands. The workers said their wages were 15 percent lower than what is paid by their immediate competitors despite being the second largest and lowest cost oil producer. Officials however, feared escalation of the crisis next week, which may threaten crude oil production of about 600,000 barrels per day (bpd). "The workers' patience is fast running out as it does not seem management would accede to the request," said an employee.

Mobil's General Manager, External Affairs, Mr. Udom Inoyo said management still believed in employing dialogue to resolve the matter. "Mobil reaffirms that it has already commenced discussions with members of PENGASSAN on issues in dispute," said Inoyo, adding that yesterday's demonstration was "orderly and peaceful." "Management would like to reaffirm the need for dialogue as a way of resolving the current misunderstanding," he said. Mobil, Nigeria's second largest producer is also the country's largest producer of condensates. The company's has however, come under strident criticism over its labor policy particularly with respect to treatment of Nigerian workers its employ, since the merger between Mobil and Exxon to form a new outfit called ExxonMobil.

The US oil major has been accused of systematic displacement of Nigerian officials with expatriates. Only recently, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) turned down the appointment of an expatriate as the chief spokesman of Mobil.