Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has reaffirmed its aversion to oil subsidy removal, insisting that such a move can only be carried out when government has fully effected the complete turn around maintenance of four refineries to enable them produce optimally.
While vowing that the union would resist anti-people policies from the Federal Government, President of NUPENG, Igwe Achese, said, the refineries when put in use would cushion the hardship subsidy removal would have on the people.
In a related development, oil workers have alleged that the revised Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) due for presentation to the National Assembly contains anti-labour provisions.
President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) Francis Johnson, who stated this yesterday at the union’s 4th triennial delegates’ conference, explained that oil workers will resist any provision that promotes job losses.
In a 10-point communique issued at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC), meeting held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NUPENG attributed the cause of the perennial fuel scarcity to the manner the Federal Government managed the subsidy, stressing that the union was watching how the policies were implemented.
He said: “The union condemned in its entirety the perennial and persistent fuel scarcity in the country and the hardship imposed on the masses, especially at this festive period.
In the circumstance, the NEC in session calls on the Federal Government and NNPC to flood the market with petroleum products to arrest the current prevalent fuel scarcity in the country.
“The current way and manner the subsidy issue is being managed is responsible for the fuel scarcity experienced across the country”, he added.
The union also reiterated its earlier position on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB),warning that it would strongly resist any attempt by the government to pass a PIB that would not absolutely check corruption, address lack of accountability, transparency and good governance.
PENGASAN said a memo detailing grievances of workers in the oil and gas sector would soon be forwarded to the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, noting that the proposed PIB as it is in the draft copy is anti-labour and against harmonious industrial relations.
“We welcome the plan to unbundle the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) NPC as proposed in the PIB which will be represented to the National Assembly in the first quarter of 2016. PENGASSAN has always been in support of the unbundling of the NNPC to bring about greater effectiveness and efficiency into the system but with a caveat that this unbundling should not pose a threat to the job security of our members.” he stated.
Johnson also explained that debates on fuel subsidy would die a natural death if stakeholders in the industry come together to find common ground on resolving the problems bedevilled the refineries.
He insisted that local refining of petroleum products and sustained functional refineries holds a strategic path to domestic refining capacity.
His words: “We seriously empathise with Nigerians and we use this medium to call on all stakeholders to find a forum where we can all meet and look at the best ways to resolve these issues. PENGASSAN believes that it would be in the best interest for stakeholders to meet and fashion out a direction than allowing the crisis of fuel scarcity to persist in the sector.