Nigerian oil strike causes fuel panic
AFP LAGOS A NIGERIAN oil workers union has launched a strike over a dispute with Shell, sparking fears of petrol shortages and causing long lines at stations on Wednesday in Africa’s largest crude producer.
NUPENG — the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers — is the smaller of Nigeria’s two oil industry unions and represents blue-collar workers, including tanker drivers.
The strike was said to be limited to petrol deliveries and was not expected to affect oil production. “We commenced a nationwide strike yesterday over a labour dispute our union has with Shell,” said Tokunbo Korodo, an official with the NUPENG union.
“The strike will definitely cause scarcity of petrol as our members have stopped loading from the depots ... The strike will only affect distribution of petrol in the country. It has nothing to do with exports of crude.” Korodo refused to disclose details of the dispute, but said members were picketing the Lagos office of the Anglo-Dutch oil giant.
Local media reported that the dispute centred on a union official’s alleged anti-union activities and Shell’s refusal to recognise a caretaker committee set up to replace him following his expulsion.
Korodo said the government had invited union leaders and Shell representatives to a meeting in Abuja to resolve the dispute.
“We are aware that there is a dispute between national NUPENG and the Shell branch of the union which is the subject of a court case,” Shell’s Nigerian joint venture, SPDC, said in a statement. The company said “allegations of intimidation of union officials made in some media reports against SPDC by some members of the union outside its employment are false.”