The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers (NUPENG) yesterday reiterated its preparedness to begin a nationwide strike in the New Year to protest the plan by the federal government to privatise the nation's four refineries.
NUPENG President, Igwe Achese, in a statement dismissed reports that the union had suspended the strike, adding that the union will go ahead with the industrial action as planned unless government rescinds its decision on the privatisation of the refineries.
The union said it was aware of the January 7 meeting with the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, but hoped that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Maduekwe, will attend, as the issues involved are critical to her ministry.
The union restated its opposition to the bid to privatise the refineries, which it said was not in the best interest of the nation, stressing that it would mobilise its members to resist the sale if the intervention meeting fails to resolve the issues raised by unions in the oil and gas industry.
“NUPENG has not suspended the proposed strike coming up in the New Year. The union states that the prayer sessions are still ongoing in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its subsidiaries over governments plan to privatise the refineries by our members.
“The union reiterates therefore that it has not suspended the proposed nationwide strike over government plans to privatise the four refineries located at Port Harcourt, 1& 2 Kaduna and Warri. The union states that the government plans to privatise the refineries are not in the best interest of the nation. NUPENG will therefore resist it, if all efforts at the talks fail.
“The refineries as we have always reiterated need turn around maintenance to make petroleum products available and not the rush – rush method of passing through the backdoor to attempt to sell them as scrap s to their (government officials') cronies, which NUPENG will resist,” the statement added.