If the ongoing strike action by staff of an oil major in Nigeria, Exxon Mobil Company, is allowed to continue, the country will lose at least a quarter of its crude oil export in 2017.
It is in a bid to avert this that the presidency had mandated the Labour Minister, Senator Chris Ngige to immediately wade into the crisis with a view to resolving the management-workers’ logjam.
A special Assistant to the Minister, who pleaded for anonymity said a tripartite meeting with the company’s management, the workers and the leadership of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG), the umbrella bodies for the employees had started on Friday and would continue on Monday.
It could be recalled that both senior and junior workers of Exxon Mobil carried out their threat to down tools on Friday in protest against the sacking of more than 150 staff in December 2016.
Twice between June and September 2016 the workers went on warning strikes over what they termed “indisciminate laying off of Nigerian workers on the excuse of low business setting”.
But the management had promised reviewing the case, based on merit, which the union said had not been done.
Mr. Chika Onuegbu, chairman, Exxon Mobil chapter of PENGASSAN said the management had been taking workers for granted until they carried out their threat to ground all oil exploration and off loading activities.
“As at today (Friday) arrangements for both parties to meet had started, until next week with the federal government presiding, no agreement has been reached. Promises are not enough reason to call off the strike,” Onuegbu stated.
A spokesman of Exxon Mobil, who refused to be quoted said the possibility of a meeting with the government on the issues was there, adding that the strike had “not yet impacted on oil production.
“We respect the rights of our workforce and will continue to engage with them to resolve this situation, but remain committed to the safety of our personnel and security at our facilities,” he said.
He confrimed that stagard strikes by Exxon workers in Nigeria in 2016 led to loss of oil output, while efforts were bring made not to allow repeat in 2017.
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