Nigerian trade unions shut down offices of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in protest against government’s plans to reorganize the company by splitting it into 7 independent units, the Premium Times Ng reported. The restructuring was opposed by two main trade unions in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector, which issued a notice to their members to mobilize for a strike.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) stated it did not accept any unilateral arbitrary restructuring. “The minister cannot restructure NNPC without carrying all stakeholders along,” PENGASSAN’s General Secretary, Lumumba Okugbawa, explained, adding that the restructuring came in a “secretive” manner, while not taking care of workers’ interests.
Similarly, the President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had said that the union would not accept the decision without knowing how the manpower operating in the 30 new companies emerging from NNPC would be managed, Premium Times Ng added.
The strike raises the specter of further oil shortages in Nigeria, which has already been hit by limited oil production due to attacks on pipelines. The NNPC closed two of its four refineries—in the southern city of Port Harcourt and Kaduna in central Nigeria—in January after militants sabotaged pipelines, causing supply problems and costing the country $2.4m/d, according to Nigerian Power Minister, Babatunde Fashola. The Port Harcourt refinery was reopened but the Kaduna refinery and another facility at Warri in southwestern Nigeria remain closed, NewsWeek reported.
Despite cutting monthly losses from around $151m in August 2015, the NNPC’s deficit still stood at $15m in January 2016.