The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers has threatened to embark on strike within the next 48 hours if the management of the Port Harcourt Refinery Company fails to rescind the decision to sack over 175 casual workers who are its members.
The Port Harcourt zone of the union warned that it would order tanker drivers, petrol station workers and others to withdraw their services in solidarity with the sacked workers.
Chairman of the union in the zone, Mr Mina Samuel, issued the threat on Thursday while addressing newsmen in Port Harcourt.
He said it was unfortunate that while the world was putting palliative measures in place and protecting workers’ rights, the refinery was terminating the appointments of workers.
Samuel also described the action of the PHRC as the height of insensitivity to the plight of Nigerian workers struggling to survive in the face of a COVID-19 lockdown.
He said, “The Port Harcourt zone of NUPENG may be forced to come out of its shell as a result of the PHRC management action, to withdraw the supply of petroleum products within the Port Harcourt zone if the PHRC fails to reverse its decision with immediate effect.
“Consequently, the PH zonal council of NUPENG is by this notice giving the PHRC management 72 hours from today to direct its contractors to withdraw all termination letters issued to all NUPENG members in their employment.
“Hence, we advise that the Port Harcourt Reﬁnery management to engage the union once normalcy returns to the state if need be.
“The management’s action or inaction may leave the union with the option of calling out all NUPENG members within the Port Harcourt zone.”
In his remarks, the National Treasurer of NUPENG, Mr. Alex Agwangwor, urged the PHRC to avoid moving Rivers State from the pressure of COVID-19 to an economic crisis that would arise should NUPENG embark on strike.
Agwangwor expressed the need for companies operating in the Port Harcourt zone to guarantee workers’ job security and safety in order to demonstrate good faith.