– ULC strike forces fuel depots to shut down nationwide.
-FG to meet with the striking Union later today on how to resolve grievances.
-NLC, TUC label ULC as illegal.
There has been a shutdown of fuel depots in Apapa, Lagos and other parts of the country, threatening the supply of petroleum products to filling stations following the nationwide strike called by the United Labour Congress of Nigeria which commenced on Monday.
Even though some workers didn’t join in the strike, oil workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers are partaking in the strike.
Speaking on the development, the Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said, “We got to our offices and we saw that they (NUPENG members) were not working.”
“We hope the Federal Government will call them and speak to them so that the problem can be resolved speedily,” he added.
He also said, “So many of them have been driven out of business; we are hoping that the government will pay us so that we can start working. If there is no money to trade and the workers are not working, definitely they cannot be paid.
“We will have to lay them off instead of retaining them and incur debts every month until the government pays us so that we can come back to business.”
The South-West Chairman of NUPENG, Alhaji Tokunbo Korodo, said, “We are part of the ULC and we are on strike since morning. There is no loading at depots nationwide. We voted the government into power and let us join hands together to talk to them when it is appropriate.”
Meanwhile, after initially faulting ULC’s call for a nation wide strike action and describing them as “unrecognized”, the Federal Government has invited the executive of NUPENG workers to a conciliatory meeting, which is expected to hold today (Tuesday).
This is according to a statement on Monday by Samuel Olowookere, the Deputy Director of Press, Ministry of Labour and Employment, which also revealed the meeting is at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.
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“Towards apprehending the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the NUPENG workers, the minister has scheduled a crucial conciliatory meeting with the president and executive of NUPENG on Tuesday,” a part of the statement read.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had earlier asked members of the public not to engage in panic buying of products, adding that it had more than 1.6 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit in stock, enough to last for 48 days as well as sufficient quantities of Automotive Gas Oil or diesel, Dual Purpose Kerosene and Aviation Turbine Kerosene to serve the country.
The ULC had said it hoped to cripple all modes of transportation within the nation, cause total blackout nationwide, cut-off petroleum products supplies, and disrupt banking operations.
Its demands comprise the ban on the stationing of the soldiers and policemen in its members’ workplaces and factory premises; establishment of a task force by the Federal Ministry of Labour to carry out factory inspections; immediate review of the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria; and immediate payment of all the arrears of salaries owed workers at all levels of government.
The ULC President, Joe Ajaero, while assessing the impact of the strike on Monday, said, “We urge all Nigerians to bear with us as this is a necessary sacrifice we all must make to assist those in government to be more responsible and responsive to the demands of Nigerian workers and masses.
“We urge the patriots, who are working behind the scene to get the matter resolved, to put pressure on the Federal Government to listen to Nigerian workers and the masses, whom it claims to lead. That is the only way we can get this matter amicably resolved.”
Meanwhile, a statement jointly signed by the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Bobboi Kaigama, described the United Labour Congress as illegal.
They said, “No unregistered organisations or individuals can hold our dear country to ransom.
“We urge the Federal Ministry of Labour and workers to discountenance the threats of this illegal association. The ministry must be steadfast in upholding the laws governing trade union practice in the country.
“Finally, our colleagues are still members of the labour family, in unity lies our strength. We once again extend our hands of comradeship and urge them to return to the fold.”