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NUPENG directs members to resume strike over debt

By  Victor Ahiuma-Young
ABUJA — THE National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, has directed members in the Oil and Gas Supplies (OGS) branch to resume their suspended nationwide industrial action from tomorrow following alleged failure of the Federal Government to redeem its pledge to pay up close to N2 billion debt  the managements of Mobile Telecommunications, MTEL, and Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, owed one of their employers,  B.B. King Oil (W.a.) Ltd.
This time, the aggrieved workers have vowed to cut off fuel supplies to the aviation sector apart from other critical sectors of the economy, raising fears of a harder time for Nigerians who have been battling fuel scarcity for weeks.

It could be recalled that 10 days ago, NUPENG ordered the workers to put the industrial action on hold following a pledge by the Federal Government through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, within 11 days after a meeting with stakeholders.

National Chairman of OGS branch of NUPENG, Comrade Benneth Korie, who confirmed this development, said members had been directed to from mid-night today to begin the suspended nationwide strike and cut-off supplies across the country, including aviation sector and other critical sectors pending the payment of the debt.

He lamented that members especially tanker drivers employed by B.B. King Oil (W.a.) Ltd had been going through untold hardship and finding it difficult to meet their responsibilities to their families since they had not receive their salaries for a very long time because of the debt.

Comrade Korie recalled that NUPENG’s General Secretary, Comrade Elijah Okougbo had earlier petitioned  the managements of MTEL and BPE and that in spite of the intervention of the Minister of State for Petroleum and Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), the debt had remained unpaid.
The petition read in part: “We plead that you always bear in mind that our action was brought on as a result of the hardships that the staff of B.B. KING OIL (W.A.) LTD particularly the petroleum tanker drivers of the company have been undergoing from the non-payment of their salaries and their incessant appeals for redress.

The matter was further exacerbated by the constant pressure from other sub suppliers who had received bank guarantees through B.B. KING OIL (W.A.) LTD and the banks which were clamouring for a repayment of their loans with threats of taking over the company even going as far as insinuating in their letter to us, that the National Chairman is using his influence to obstruct repayment of the bank loans that would have caused the workers to loose their jobs.

Besides, all of this was adversely affecting the affairs of the union as the executives of the OGS Branch were complaining loudly that the National Chairman was too distracted by the accusations of the banks to pay attention to their affairs.

Even though the transaction was pre existing before he assumed the office of the National Chairman of his branch.  As it is well known, we are our comrade’s keepers hence injury to one is injury to all, NUPENG had to intervene.”


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