By FESTUS OKOROMADU, Abuja
The lingering crisis between members of the petroleum and natural gas senior staff association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the management of mobil producing Nigeria unlimited, the Nigerian arm of ExxonMobil may cost the nation a huge loss of $106.4 million daily as the union said it is set to commence a nationwide industrial action today.
Chairman of PENGASSAN, Lagos zone, Comrade Abel Agarin who spoke with LEADERSHIP at the weekend over the development said the union will commence a nationwide three days warning strike today.
“We are putting finishing touches to our arrangements; all members of PENGASSEN will proceed on a 3-day warning strike on Monday”, he said.
Bearing in mind the nation’s crude production which is said to be 2.2million barrels per day, compared with the OPEC basket price for Friday May 12, 2017 of $48.37 per barrel, the strike if sustained, will cost the nation $106.4million per day
Speaking on telephone with LEADERSHIP, Comrade Agarin said, “We have written to all our members nationwide and the national body is in support of the action. The first step is a warning strike which is expected to last for three days. After that, we will decide on the next step.”
Also speaking on the economic implication of the proposed action, Comrade Agarin said, “Is the government showing any concern about the poor working condition of those who generate the revenue the country is depending on?
“Ask the government if they stand by the laws they made to govern labour activities in this country with regards to the activities of the multinationals operating in the country’s oil and gas sector.
“The working conditions in the country are not favourable to the workers and the government is not doing anything about it. These multinationals bring in expatriates to do the job Nigerians can do and treat them like lords, but when dealing with Nigerians, they treat us anyhow because they think they can get away with it”, he said.
Last Wednesday, members of PENGASSEN had embarked on a three- day warning strike to protest the refusal of ExxonMobil management to honour an agreement reached with the union in December under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige over the sack of 83 members of staff of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.
The union had threatened to shut down crude production by first gradual shutting down of the plants in Mobil locations all over the country.
“Our members have begun gradual withdrawal from oil and gas installations belonging to Mobil in Nigeria. Our members in the loading bay at Best Operations Platform (BOP) where crude oil is loaded have been withdrawn, while those in Erha and Ushan FPSO will be joining by midnight today and those in Bonny River Terminal will join by midnight Thursday. Final shut down will be with the withdrawal of our members in Qua Iboe Terminal, with about 14 locations by Friday midnight.
“By Friday, other International Oil Companies (IOCs) such as Chevron, Shell, Addax, Total and Agip and indigenous oil companies will join. We are also mobilising our members in Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS)”, he said.
According to the union, its members embarked on a three-day warning strike on Wednesday to protest the refusal of the ExxonMobil management to honour an agreement reached during a tripartite meeting with the senior staff union and the Ministry of Labour and Productivity to restore 83 staff of the company sacked in December.
As a follow-up, LEADERSHIP spoke with him during the weekend where he confirmed the strike action.
When confronted with ExxonMobil’s accusation of the unethical behaviour of the five executive members of PENGASSAN who were said to have destroyed the company’s properties as well as threatened staff who refused to join the strike in December, Agarin said the allegation was untrue.
His words: “ExxonMobil is a secured place; there are CCTVs cameras everywhere. We have told them to show us evidence of their claims, if they have it, let them show the world.”
Meanwhile, experts have continued to express worries over the attitude of labour union leaders in the country, especially those of the oil and gas sector.
Executive director, Training, African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development, Mr. Monday Osasah, said while the workers have a right to demand for good condition of service, they must not fail to have the interest of the nation at heart.
Similarly, country officer, Natural Resources Governance Institute, NRGI, Dr. Daudu Garuba, argued that such a threat coming from workers in the oil and gas sector now was not acceptable.
According to him, whatever their grievances are, the timing is wrong.
He added that if the workers carry out their threat, the government will blame them for their inability to deliver on the 2017 budget which is yet to see the light of the day.