Except the concerned authorities step in immediately, aggrieved workers of the Nigerian oil sector may start a strike that could paralyse activities in the petroleum sector of the Nigerian economy.
Any time this has happened, the economy generally and Nigerian masses have been the worse for it.
This is why the National leadership of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) is raising an alarm over what it described as the“oppressive and high handedness’’ of some foreign firms that sacked workers over union membership.
Through a statement signed by its President, Mr Williams Akporeha the union is accusing the Management of Sterling Energy Exploration Company (SEEPCO) and its drilling arm, British Oil and Gas Limited (BOGEL) of intimidating workers by denying them their right to unionism.
He therefore called on the relevant bodies of the federal government to wade into the issue to prevent industrial crises in Kwale, Warri area of Delta States, which may have a snowballing effect on the nation generally.
It particularly appealed to 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 take action.
“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.
“Unfortunately, rather than following path of decency and global best practices, the management of Sterling Energy Exploration Company (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 unacceptable that these companies would beusing brute force to dehumanize, terrorize, and victimize Nigerians in their own country.
“As a responsible and responsive trade Union organization, we cannot and shall not fold our arms and watch our 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,” her said.
The President called on members of the union to be on red alert as they might be called upon at very short notice to withdraw their services nationwide in solidarity with their oppressed colleagues if this situation is not addressed immediately.