Lagos

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Pengassan, has told its members to withdraw their services from production facilities and offices of international oil companies operating in Nigeria, in a solidarity action with a strike at ExxonMobil’s Nigerian unit over labor disputes, Platts reported on Monday, citing union and industry sources.

The industrial action at Exxon’s Nigerian subsidiary began last week, when employees started a strike to protest against a group layoff of oil workers in December last year, when a total of 150 workers lost their jobs, including 82 members of the Pengassan union.

Last week, an Exxon spokesperson had said that there was “no impact” on oil production.

“The national executive of Pengassan at the weekend directed members to begin at the international oil companies in solidarity with our members in Mobil Producing Nigeria,” the chairman of the Lagos branch of Pengassan, Abel Agarin, told Platts.

Union representatives have locked workers out at Shell, Eni, and Chevron’s offices in Lagos, and at the companies’ operational bases in the Niger Delta, according to officials of the international companies who spoke to Platts on the telephone.

The union has shut down some of Exxon’s production facilities in Akwa Ibom, according to a company source cited by Platts.

The latest labor dispute and the solidarity action could disrupt Nigeria’s plans to restore its crude oil production now that militant attacks on oil facilities have decreased and Forcados is said to be close to imminent re-launch.

On Friday, a Pengassan official told Reuters that there were plans for a meeting between the union and Exxon with the mediation of government officials early this week.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Labor Minister Chris Ngige has referred the dispute between Exxon and the union to an Industry Arbitration Panel, a government official told Platts today, adding that this means that “all the parties in the dispute should maintain the status quo.”

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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