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Published On: Thu, Sep 6th, 2018

Fuel scarcity looms as NUPENG threatens to embark on strike action over military brutality in Delta

Comrade Williams Akporeha, National President, NUPENG

The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has threatened to go on a nationwide industrial action if the Chief of Army Staff fails to redeploy soldiers who are brutalising workers in two oil companies in Delta State within 24 hours.

Briefing pressmen on Thursday in Lagos, Comrade Williams Akporeha, National President, NUPENG said the use of military personnel and armed militias to forcefully eject workers from the premises by Sterling Energy Exploration Company (SEEPCO) and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Limited (BOGEL), because they asked to be unionised is an aberration and dehumanization of the workers.

He claimed the companies involved sacked over 2,500 workers, who asked for their legitimate right to belong to an association.

Akporeha said the use of military personnel to distribute forms to the workers not to belong to any association is unheard of in the country and wonder how Nigerian soldiers are being used to dehumanize Nigerian workers, who were demanding for their rights.

According to him, despite call to all relevant stakeholders to help nip the matter in the bud before it escalates, SEEPCO and BOGEL have failed to rescind their decision.

“Workers in Delta State have started industrial action at the moment and if nothing is done by the military honchos to talk to their boys doing illegal duty, we will have no option but to peacefully toe the line of national industrial action in solidarity to the plight of the affected workers,” he asserted.

He also called for immediate intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Chief of Army Staff, Inspector General of Police, and the Acting Director General of Department of State Security and other relevant stakeholders in the oil and gas industry to the matter.

He said that it was the resolve of the union to always work with all employers of workers in the oil and gas industry with the primary aim of entrenching and sustaining industrial peace and harmony in the overall interest of the country, stating that the Union would never hesitate to stand firm in protecting the interest of its members particularly when their rights are being violated.
“For the record, five drilling oil rigs being operated by Sterling Energy Exploration Company (SEEPCO) and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Limited in Kwale, Warri area of Delta State, have been in operation for several years now, with continued refusal by the management of these drilling companies to allow workers to join the union.
“Workers of these drilling rigs have overtly indicated their willingness and readiness to join the union of their choice and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers has responded appropriately to the request of these workers with several requests for union recognition from the management,” he further stated.
He noted that unfortunately, rather than following path of decency and global best practices, the management of SEEPCO and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Limited have resulted to high handedness and violence through the use of military men and armed militias to forcefully evacuate over 2500 workers from the five drilling rigs.
“These companies are Indian operated companies and NUPENG found it grossly unfortunate and unacceptablethat these companies would beusing brute force to dehumanize, terrorize, and victimize Nigerians in their own country,” he added.
The NUPENG National President averred that as a responsible and responsive trade Union organization, it will not fold its arms and watch its members being dehumanized and terrorized in the course of demanding for their legitimate rights that are purely recognized by Labour rules and even International Labour Organization charter.
“To avoid further escalation of this current unhealthy situation and considering the collateral damage it might cause the nation, NUPENG is earnestly asking all the aforementioned stakeholders to call the management of these companies to order and direct them to follow path of decency and best practices by granting the legitimate wishes of the workers to freely associate and be unionized without any further encumbrance or limitations,” he maintained.


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