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Nigeria oil unions to launch warning strike next week.

Summary: ABUJA - NigeriaAEs oil workers said Saturday they will begin a three-day warning strike on Wednesday to protest a plan to remove a subsidy on petroleum products and the growing insecurity in the Niger Delta.

"The leadership of both NUPENG and PENGASSAN decided to launch the three-day warning strike from March 25 at the end of a 21-day ultimatum," union spokesman Bayo Olowosile told AFP.

Olowosile, who is general secretary of the powerful white-collar Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), said the federal government had failed to address the unions' demands.

Both PENGASSAN and its blue-collar National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers served the strike notice on March 2.

Olowosile said "the nation's oil industry will be crippled for the three days".

He warned that if nothing was done at the end of the warning strike on Friday, the two unions would not hesitate to call an indefinite strike.

"I hope something urgent will be done to avert a total disruption of our oil production as the oil rigs will be shut," he added.

The unions early last month threatened to pull members out of the Niger Delta following an upsurge in kidnappings of oil workers, but later delayed taking action to allow more time for discussions considering the importance of the industry to the country's economy.

Nigeria's central labour movement Nigeria labour Congress has also threatened to stage nationwide protests to force the government to rescind plans to scrap oil subsidies and privatise oil refineries.

The past three years have seen an increase in violent attacks and kidnappings targeting oil companies, workers and their families throughout the Niger Delta.

Some are carried out by militants claiming to be fighting for a fairer share of the region's oil wealth for local people, others by criminal gangs out to make ransom money.

The surge in violent attacks on Nigeria's oil industry has meant a drop in crude production in the world's eighth largest producer to 1.78 million barrels a day, compared with 2.6 million in 2006.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 23, 2009
Words:359
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