Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Abductions force Nigerian oil strikes

10 October 2011

Kidnappings and continued insecurity have led oil workers in Nigeria to down tools for three days as an indefinite strike is threatened.

Eoin O'Cinneide & news wires 

Hundreds of workers in the country’s most lucrative industry began the three-day warning strike on Monday as union leaders called on the government to resolve the issue of insecurity in the Niger Delta.

The National Union of Petroleum & Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) are threatening further striking action unless oil workers are made to feel safer in the midst of continued abductions.

A joint petition from the unions to the governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, read: “We are becoming increasingly disturbed over these dastardly acts which we consider as condemnable and unnecessary on innocent oil and gas workers. We condemn the spate of hostage taking in its entirety.

“It is particularly worrisome that our recurring calls on the government at various levels and agencies to discuss and resolve the myriad of killings and kidnappings facing the state had proved abortive.

“We are bothered about the psychological trauma and torture that our affected members experience when abducted for ransom and other unknown motives.

“Moreover, the families of the affected members pass through untold apprehension and agony.”

Chika Onuegbu, industrial relations officer at PENGASSAN, was quoted in local media as saying: "The government is not doing anything about the insecurity in these states. If the situation does not improve after this warning strike we will go on full-scale strike action."

A spokesperson for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation told local media: "We understand the unions are concerned about the safety of their workers and I can assure you that government ministers and all of us are talking with them to resolve this situation.”

The number of reported kidnappings within the oil industry in the Niger Delta has actually fallen significantly this year as compared with any other year since 2007, a recent report from security analyst firm Bergen Risk Solutions contends.

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