Nigerian oil workers to strike Monday, crippling Africa’s largest producer

LAGOS – NIGERIA’s two main oil workers’ unions said they would launch an indefinite strike on Monday, threatening to hurt the output of Africa’s largest oil producer.

“The strike will affect all operations in the upstream, midstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry, as members will be withdrawn from all oil and gas installations,” the unions said in a joint statement on Sunday.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) said the action was aimed at forcing the passage of a new law and meeting several other longstanding demands.

These include the adoption of the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill aimed at overhauling the inefficient and corrupt sector and tackling unfair labour practices by both oil companies and government agencies.

The unions said the strike call was also a reaction to “the inability of the government to carry out turnaround maintenance of the refineries” and its failure to reduce petrol prices at the pump to reflect the fall in global oil prices.

They said workers had been mobilised and that the action would “not be suspended” until the government and operators showed “a strong commitment” to resolve the issues.

They accused the government of failing to keep its promises to maintain the refineries and ensure they had an adequate supply of crude oil, as well as neglecting to combat pipeline vandalism.

The unions also demanded improvements to the country’s notoriously neglected roads.

Despite its oil wealth Nigeria imports much of its fuel due to a lack of refining capacity.

The majority of people in Africa’s biggest economy live on less than $1 per day and corruption is rife, triggers periodic bouts of social unrest. Sapa-AFP