allAfrica.com: Shell Workers On Strike: “Unions said they were not trying to stop exports with the warning strike, but that the action could get more serious if management failed to respond to their demands.” (ShellNews.net)
P.M. News (Lagos)
October 8, 2004
Nigerian oil unions began an unexpected 2-day strike at Royal Dutch Shell Group facilities to protest against feared job cuts.
Shell, which pumps about a million barrels a day of Nigeria's 2.3 million bpd output, said output and exports had not been affected.
The unions said the action could be suspended today if talks between the two sides resumed, as expected.
"The unions, PENGASSAN and NUPENG have commenced a two-day industrial action. Efforts are being made to minimize the impact of this on the company's operations," a Shell spokesman said.
"We are still loading normally and our terminals are not shut." The action started yesterday at all Shell installations, including the export terminals at Bonny, Forcados and the offshore EA field.
Traders said Shell had already activated a contingency plan to man terminals with skeletal staff.
Independent port inspectors said in a note to clients that the strike meant new loadings would be put "on hold," but a Shell source said the company did not expect the two-day action to have any impact on exports.
Shell does not foresee any need to issue a force majeure, a legal document which indemnifies the company if it fails to deliver on contracted sales due to events outside its control, he added.
The surprise two-day strike is unrelated to a general strike due to begin on Monday, organized by Nigeria's umbrella union groups, which include blue-collar NUPENG and white collar PENGASSAN, over rising fuel prices.
Unions said they were not trying to stop exports with the warning strike, but that the action could get more serious if management failed to respond to their demands.
Nigerian media have reported that Shell's restructuring plan would cut 1,000 jobs, or 20 percent of its Nigerian workforce. It aims to reduce costs to $1.50 per barrel.