Nigerian gov't, trade union discuss fuel subsidy removal strike

January 13, 2012 11:43 pm 

LAGOS, Jan. 13 — The meeting between the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) and the Nigerian federal government on the ongoing indefinite strike on Thursday in Abuja ended in a deadlock and is expected to continue on Friday.

A nationwide strike began Monday after the Nigerian government announced the removal of oil subsidies. Protests were also held in different cities against the government decision as prices of oil and related products have sharply increased.

Speaking after the meeting, NLC President Abdulwaheed Omar said the organized labor would have no choice than to continue the strike if further meetings failed to reach an amicable agreement.

Meanwhile, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has warned that crude oil production will be shut down if the Federal Government failed to revert the pump price of petrol to 65 naira per liter.

Babatunde Ogun, PENGASSAN President, gave the warning at a news conference on Thursday in Lagos.

"We are hereby notifying the Federal Government and all Nigerians that PENGASSAN shall be forced to apply the option of ordering the systematic shutting down of oil and gas production, with effect from midnight on Saturday if the issue is not resolved, " he said.

According to him, the union would take the decision if the government does not yield to the agitations of Nigerians by reverting the pump price of petrol to 65 naira.

He said PENGASSAN had decided to shut the operations of oil and gas sector in phases because it remained the major source of revenue for the nation.

"The implication of a total shut down is more devastating than the problem at hand because there will be no crude export, no energy, gas, fuel and no communication," he added.

"It is a great decision to make and if we shut operations, the oil wells will stop flowing, while it takes two days to three days to shut down, it will take between six months and one year to get it to work again," Ogun told reporters.

The PENGASSAN leader said the country would lose two million barrels of crude oil per day and huge revenue if operations were shut in.

He said the government would pay huge damages and demurrage if productions were disrupted.

He reiterated PENGASSAN's commitment to the ongoing industrial action which entered the fourth day on Thursday.

Ogun urged the Federal Government to resolve the issue in the interest of peace and the economy. (PNA/Xinhua) LAP/utb

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