By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Lagos—THE Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, yesterday rejected threat by Petroleum oil marketers to embark on mass sack of workers, over unpaid subsidy claims, warning the oil marketers not to use workers as scapegoats.
NUPENG in a statement by its President, Mr. Achese Igwe, in Lagos, insisted that the threat to embark on the mass sack was uncalled for, unjustified and unethical as the workers had always performed their duties well, threatening that any attempt to sack workers would be resisted and could lead to an industrial crisis in the industry.
The union however pleaded with the federal government to verify the N720 billion claims the oil marketers and pay them to avert fuel scarcity and suffering of the masses.
According to the statement: “The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, wants to use this medium to warn the oil marketers over the threat of mass retrenchment of workers if the federal government fails to pay outstanding subsidy owed it on the importation of petroleum products. We want to state that the threat to sack the workers should not be used as a bait or weapon to get government to pay but apply other sanctions that will compel the government to pay genuine claims. The threat to embark on the mass sack is uncalled for, unjustified and unethical as the workers have always performed their duties well.
“NUPENG warns that workers cannot be used as scapegoats or guinea pigs for government’s ineptitude and nonchalant attitude to pay for products imported on their behalf. We call on the federal government to verify the N720 billion claims by oil marketers and pay in order to avert fuel scarcity and suffering of the masses. The oil marketers borrowed money to import these products and as a result government should fulfil its obligations to the marketers. Government must develop the political will to do the turn-around-maintenance of the nation’s refineries to make them work optimally so that the drain on our foreign exchange will be reduced due to massive importation of petroleum products.”
The Union added that “any attempt to sack workers in the oil marketing firms will be resisted and will lead to an industrial crisis in the industry. We advise the government and the oil companies to sort out themselves and not to use the workers as cannon fodder.”