- Nigeria's two main trade unions in the oil sector today started a three-day strike that is to paralyse the sector, protesting the lack of security for workers. The strike comes shortly after two oil workers were killed in armed attacks and follows a wave of kidnappings by rebels in the oil producing Delta region.
The strike had been called by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), after negotiations with Nigeria's federal government had failed on Monday. Labour Minister Hassan Lawal today failed in a last attempt to have the strike called off.
A large part of trade union members stayed away from work today, and several of the country's oil export terminals soon were paralysed. According to the oil industry, however, most operations and oil production at large had barely been affected by the strike.
NUPENG and PENGASSAN leaders are to meet tomorrow to consider further dialogue with Labour Minister Lawal. The unions also hinted that a positive outcome may lead to a premature end of the strike.
The oil workers are protesting the escalation of violence and lack of security in the sector, especially since rebel groups in the Niger Delta region started targeting oil workers. The Delta rebels demand larger parts of the nation's enormous oil revenues be directed to the impoverished main production areas, especially the Delta.
The rebels have focused on interrupting oil pipelines but also on threatening oil workers onshore and offshore. A large number of recent kidnappings of Nigerian and foreign oil workers have only been solved by the paying of ransom money, encouraging further kidnapping. The insecurity is estimated at having reduced Nigeria's oil production by around one third.
The latest attacks on Nigerian oil workers are however not seen in connection with the Delta rebels. Two workers have been killed in armed attacks during the last week.
On Tuesday, a contract oil worker for the US company Chevron was shot at an offshore location in the Niger Delta. According to Chevron Nigeria spokesman Femi Odumabo, preliminary results from the investigations revealed the worker's death was the result of "criminal activities" and not connected to militant activities in the Niger Delta.
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