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Oil workers' proposed strike: Government should meet the demands now and not strategise to defeat the strike!

Statement issued on March 31 by the CDWR in Lagos in support of the strike being planned by oil workers

As the workers in the oil and gas industry are preparing for an industrial action, we of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) fully support most of their demands with the exception of a call for privatisation of refineries. This call for privatisation, however, we appreciate is borne out of the frustration by the workers for the corrupt manner in which the public properties are managed, a situation which has witnessed huge resources allocated going down the drain. For instance, the government claimed to have spent $700 million for the turn around maintenance of the refineries and yet there is nothing to show for this. As against privatisation we support the democratic management of the affairs and resources of the refineries and other public properties with the elected representatives of workers.

Some of other demands of the workers are end to redundancy, casualisation, contract employment and abuse of expatriate quota by the companies and the implementation of the agreement between the workers’ unions and oil companies on the pension scheme.

By and large, we are delighted to learn that there is intensive mobilization of the rank and file members of PENGASAN and NUPENG for the proposed action, the development that has forced the government, which had hitherto turned a deaf ear to the workers’ demands, to lately run helter-skelter to prevent the action with the usual appeal to the workers for more time to address the demands. However, the workers must not give in to the characteristic deceit and empty promise of the government, the effort at mobilizing workers for action should be sustained until the demands are substantially met.

Moreover, as part of the strategy for the effective mobilisation and action, we suggest formation of workers’ action committees at all layers and companies in the industry. This will further make it clear to the government that attempt at deceiving the unions’ negotiators to soft pedal on the action without fundamentally meeting the demands will be futile.

We therefore call on all relevant authorities to do all that is necessary to meet the workers’ demands instead of the usual approach of working to ensure the defeat of workers action.

We call on the oil workers’ unions to further popularize their demands and appeal for solidarity actions amongst rank and file members of other labour unions and federations and the working masses in general as the proposed action will one way or another affect their interests.

Finally we urge the unions concerned to steadfastly pursue their demands to the most logical conclusion by not falling to the usual deceptive and counter-productive attitude of those in control of the economy and polity of Nigeria.

Victor Osakwe