The Warri chapter of the Independent Petroleum Markets of Nigeria (IPMAN) has directed its members to open their filling stations for sale of petroleum products, saying its members were not on strike.
It said though some NUPENG members were employees of IPMAN members, the association was not consulted or "carried along" by the strikers.
The directive issued yesterday in Warri was prompted by the reported attack on some outlets by members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Union of Nigeria (NUPENG) in an attempt to compel the marketers to support the ongoing strike by the union.
The Warri Council of NUPENG last week declared an industrial action over the reported sack of its members in the employ of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL).
The statement by the union’s Senior Assistant General Secretary, Warri Zonal Council, Mr Otite Onohwowhohe, accused the management of Chevron of insensitivity, disrespecting agreement reached and treating the sacked workers "like slaves."
Nonetheless, it has been mum from the management of Chevron as efforts by THISDAY to get any reaction from the company were unsuccessful.
The statement last week announcing the strike by the Warri council of NUPENG claimed, “As a result of the refusal of Chevron Nigeria Limited Management to honour the communiqué of July 10th, 2014 issued at the instance of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Abuja, to resolve the industrial dispute between the union and Chevron management, the strike action that was earlier suspended is hereby resumed".
However, IPMAN warned that the NUPENG directive was not in any way binding on the independent marketers and could not, therefore, be compelled to shut their petroleum products outlets as they were not members of NUPENG.
THISDAY gathered that several filling stations had been attacked and fuel pumping gadgets forcibly removed and confiscated by the NUPENG members apparently desirous of making visible impact with its one week old strike.
However, the Chairman of IPMAN, Warri Chapter, Chief Akpos Edafevwotu, stated in Warri yesterday that members of the association were neither members of NUPENG nor in any solidarity pact with NUPENG.
Edafevwotu described the strike action as unjustified and clearly meant to inflict unnecessary hardship on motorists and members of the public particularly in the states under the Warri zone of NUPENG.
He condemned the action of members of NUPENG in the last couple of days in disrupting operations at some filling stations that were dispensing fuel to customers as NUPENG strove to make effective their strike action.
The IPMAN therefore directed its members to promptly report such meddling and interruption to the nearest police station.
Edafevwotu said, “Let me say emphatically that we are not part of the strike action embarked upon by NUPENG in protest of the refusal of Chevron to recall some of their members that were sacked by the oil company. They never consulted us and there was never a meeting to agree to embark on such strike.
“We are their employer and they needed to carry us along and if we believe in their struggle, the national secretariat and the zonal office will direct us to join. But that is not the case in this strike action by NUPENG. Instead, they are resorting to forceful compliance by removing some of my member’s pumps."
The IPMA Boss urged Delta State Government to wade into the development threatening that his members would no longer tolerate their employees disrupting their businesses under the guise of strike noting that their disagreement had to do with upstream sector of the oil industry while theirs is downstream.
“I have directed my members to report any disruption of their operations to the nearest police station. They cannot hold us into ransom. The state government should intervene now before it gets out of hand. Why should they make people to suffer unnecessarily?” he asked.
Although many filling stations had remained under lock and key on Wednesday apparently as a precaution, the statement by IPMAN might have encouraged marketers as many filling stations in Warri and adjoining Effurun were yesterday (Friday) opened to customers.
However, the mild NUPENG strike-induced fuel scarcity has apparently not affected the pump price of premium motor spirit (PMS) or petrol in Warri metropolis and adjoining areas.