June 18, 2009

PENGASSAN threatens showdown with oil firms

By Jimitota Onoyume
PORT HARCOURT—SOME oil  companies operating in Rivers State have been told to rescind their decision to disengage some of their workers  on the ground that they belong to  the  Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN).

Spokesman of the oil union in the state, Comrade Hyginus Chika Onuegbu,   said the action of the firms was unacceptable to the union.  Chika, who gave the names of  the companies, said in the last three days, a total of  twenty members of the union have been laid off by the firms.

While calling on the Federal Government and other relevant agencies to quickly step in to redress the situation,  he said the union would not hesitate to take steps that might further worsen the economic situation in the country.

He said the action of the oil firms had already generated what he called palpable tension in the oil industry and there was urgent need for this issue to be addressed.

According to him: “These companies have, in addition to their various anti-labour practices, also sacked and suspended PENGASSAN members unprocedurally and without due process.

Some of these companies located in the Onne oil and gas free zone have continued to deny our members their right to join a trade union and have gone ahead to sack our branch leaders for refusal to renounce PENGASSAN.

“We have informed the relevant government agencies for their urgent intervention to save our country from any possible industrial action. Emotions are high and we have also begun the process of preparing our members for an emergency action”.

We cannot be slaves in our father land. We think we should put the general public on notice”