The Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers has threatened to embark on strike over the sacking of its members who are workers of two oil firms operating in Rivers and Bayelsa States.
NUPENG’s Acting Zonal Chairman, Port Harcourt Zone, Mr. Charles Eleto, said the strike would commence on Wednesday if the companies failed to recall the sacked workers.
Speaking in Port Harcourt on Monday, Eleto, who identified the companies as Hilong Engineering Nigeria Limited and Uniterm Nigeria Limited, explained that the affected workers were either sacked or suspended for allegedly joining labour union.
Putting the number of affected workers at 300, the NUPENG acting zonal chairman expressed dissatisfaction over the action of the firms.
Eleto maintained that the strike would affect Rivers and Bayelsa States and could go nationwide should the companies fail to recall the sacked and suspended workers.
He pointed out that the decision of the companies to sack the workers based on unionism was against the law, vowing that nothing will stop NUPENG from going on strike except the workers were recalled.
Eleto said, “The issue might look very strange to Nigerians. Some group of companies have decided to carry out victimisation on our members, those companies are Hilong Nigeria limited and Uniterm Nigeria.
“We have unionised the workers according to labour laws only for Hilong and Uniterm to start carrying on victimisation on these workers. Some of them sacking them and some asking them to refute their membership of NUPENG.
“This process was reported to the Federal Ministry of Labour. After much discussion and persuasion from the Ministry of Labour last week Wednesday; we discussed at length, but the meeting ended in a deadlock because the company claimed they are not labour provider.
“It was at that point we gave them 14 days ultimatum, which will expire this week Wednesday. Hilong and Uniterm forcefully locked workers, who came back from their rig on Thursday inside a room and asked them to denounce membership of NUPENG.
“We have reported the new development to the Federal Ministry of Labour and we are calling on security agents and the state governments (Bayelsa and Rivers) to caution these companies, else we will do it our own way.
“Even at the meeting we had with them today, these companies are still feeling reluctant to understand what the labour laws say.”
He, however, urged major oil companies to desist from the mass retrenchment of their employees, saying, “The Federal Government has made it clear that every oil and gas company operating in this country to bear with them and not to keep the workers out of job.”
When contacted, a top official of Uniterm said the allegation against the firm was false, promising to speak on the matter on a later date.
Meanwhile, effort to reach Hilong Nigeria Limited to react to NUPENG’s claim was not successful.