The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) says it will embark on a three-day warning strike to press for the reinstatement of the National Zonal Secretary of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Mrs. Elo, who was sacked by Total Exploration and Production Nigeria (TEPNG) Limited.
“It (the strike) is not a threat; it is commencing tomorrow. But we are graduating the processes. The issue is the sack of the national zonal secretary of PENGASSAN (Port Harcourt Zone), Mrs Elo. The truth is that we cannot fold our hands to see these foreign investors coming with punitive measures in our own country,” the National President of NUPENG, Comrade Achese Igwe, said yesterday, at the union’s thanksgiving service held at the All Saint’s Anglican Church, Okochiri, Okrika.
“We do not intend to create hardship for Nigerians. That is why we have decided to fashion out a way so that Nigerians would not feel the impact. We are not declaring a nation-wide strike as assumed,” he explained.
“The zone where she came from would be shut down on Monday until the issue is resolved and she is reinstated back to office. Without that, no going back. The state under the zone included Bayelsa, Rivers, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Enugu, Anambra, Benue and Ebonyi.”
Igwe therefore called for the understanding of Nigerians over the strike, stating that they were forced to embark on the action because of Total’s refusal to reverse its sack of the union official.
“Nigerians know that we do not want to embark upon this strike action now. This issue has been on for a long period; we have done consultations. Even the Ministry of Petroleum has intervened and the NNPC, which is the checkmate of the oil and gas industry have also intervened that the woman should be reinstated but Total Exploration and Production Nigeria (TEPNG) Limited said no,” he stated.
“We are embarking in that strike because we have driven our processes to a level. Those behind these challenges are blacks; they are also Nigerians. We are saying, reinstate this woman back. She was elected by the people to serve the people. But all of a sudden you said no because she was elected as a woman; that the only thing you can do is to sack her and then you queried her. You begin to tell her that she must go on leave of absence. Fine, you offered a leave of absence but the union needs to sit down and X-ray the impact of that. But the next thing we saw was a sack.
“Now, we have been able to study the offer you made, restore this woman back to job, you said no: That because she was elected at the Port Harcourt zone, you want to transfer her back to the Lagos zone. But the answer is no; she was elected in Port Harcourt zone; you cannot transfer her to Lagos. That is the political office of the workers. The workers elected her; she is representing the workers, not representing you as an institution or as a management,” he explained.