By Paul Dada
The Muslim Rights Concern has called for the criminalisation of industrial action in the oil sector even as the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) embarked on yet another strike last week.
The strike, which was to protest the alleged unbundling of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by the Federal Government, merely lasted 24 hours.
But MURIC, through its Executive Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said it was “deeply worried by the instability in the oil sector particularly ugly events like strikes by oil workers which cause undue hardship among the citizenry and bring the nation’s economy to a grinding halt.“
The group further said: “While we are not totally closing our eyes to the right of oil workers to collective bargaining, we are of the opinion that this right must not be abused. It is poor Nigerians who suffer when rascality and impunity become the norm in unionism particularly in a sector whose product is sine qua non to the people’s welfare.
“MURIC frowns upon the spontaneous nature of the strike as the oil workers shut down all NNPC facilities immediately the unbundling of the corporation was announced. Nigerians are asking NUPENG and PENGASSAN: what happened to notification? What effort did the unions make towards dialogue?
“We appeal to oil workers to appreciate the value of their services to the country and call on leaders of both NUPENG and PENGASSAN to exhibit responsible leadership and temper patriotism with service delivery. Leaders of workers’ unions in the oil sector should not exploit the sensitive nature of their jobs.
“Without prejudice to the welfare of oil workers, in pursuance of good governance and in the general interest of ordinary Nigerians, we call on both FG and the National Assembly to work hand in hand towards criminalising strike in the oil sector in view of the latter’s sensitive nature and its contribution to the economy.”