Nigeria's Oil, Gas Workers May Begin Strike Wednesday

IBADAN, Nigeria, March 17, 2008, Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

The union representing office and managerial staff in Nigeria's oil and gas sector has threatened to begin a nationwide strike Wednesday.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, or Pengassan, said in a statement Sunday the action may be taken following the breakdown of talks between its representatives and the management of Mobil Oil Nigeria PLC over the sacking of its members by the oil company.

A stoppage could paralyze oil and gas production, petroleum supply and distribution in Nigeria as well as exports.

Peter Esele, Pengassan president said against all labor laws and social judgment, Mobil sacked its members, including all branch executive officers and the national treasurer.

"As shall be further directed, we shall ensure that all our members withdraw their services from all offices, base and field locations, plants and facilities in the entire petroleum sector, including all related government and quasi public corporations and agencies, and commence full scale indefinite industrial action until otherwise directed," Esele said.

Mobil could not immediately be contacted by Dow Jones Newswires but The Vanguard newspaper in a report Monday quoted Akin Fatunke, Mobil's external affairs manager as saying that Mobil like all other major operators in the downstream sector, had embarked on an organizational renewal program in order to position the company for profitable growth in an increasingly competitive environment.

He said Mobil's investment in new work process technology based on Software Application Program, led to rationalization of jobs adding that unionized positions and those at senior executive levels have been affected by the renewal program.

Fatunke was quoted as saying "of the 67 employees affected by the renewal program, 61 have voluntarily reviewed and signed off on their final entitlement packages. Fifty-seven of them have since collected their checks with each process appropriately witnessed in accordance with local law."

He said the company will continue to encourage its employees to belong to Pengassan adding "we will support union activities in our company in full compliance with Nigerian law."

IBADAN, Nigeria, March 17, 2008, Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.