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As Tanker Drivers Begin Nationwide Strike

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There are concerns across the country that the time of free flow of
fuel may be over this week following the strike action embarked upon by tanker drivers on Monday.
Petroleum Tanker Drivers, PTD, branch of the Nigeria Union of  Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, Sunday, directed members to begin nationwide indefinite strike and shut all loading depots and
fuel terminals until further notice.

The workers are protesting non-renewal of their Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, that expired three years ago, deplorable conditions of nation’s high ways, alleged harassment by security, especially Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, and plans by Capital Oil Plc to declare 2000 members redundant due to its unresolved issue with
Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC. National Chairman of PTD, Mr. Salimon Oladiti, said that there was no going back on the strike as it was decided by the organs of the union. According to him, the strike will be total as loading depots and fuel terminals nationwide will be shut down. He said: “There is no going back. The strike is
definitely going ahead as planned and it will be total because all loading depots and fuel terminals will be shut down. We have fully mobilized and sensitized all members.”
We, however, gathered that there had been frantic efforts by government agencies and officials in the last 24 hours to abort the strike because of its socio-economic implications on the nation and the citizens. It was gathered that government officials were making efforts to summon the leaders of the union for an emergency meeting
Monday, April 03, 2017 to find solutions to the crisis.

We dare say that Nigeria cannot afford any more stress on the economy which the looming fuel scarcity entails unless the tanker drivers are stopped from going further with their strike. Nigerians are already passing through hell to survive; many families cannot afford two square meals a day, even as many parents have withdrawn their kids
from schools due to their inability to pay school fees. The recessed economy of Nigeria is biting hard where it matters most-the pockets of Nigerians. This is not time for strikes. Whatsoever are the grievances of the tanker drivers with the federal government should be addressed, and quickly too.

We found it discomfiting that several weeks after the tanker drivers served notice that they would embark on strike action, the federal government, through the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity failed to reach out to them for amicable resolution of the disagreement. The government waited until the tanker drivers make true their threat, and now the queues have returned to the filling stations nd ordinary Nigerians are bearing the brunt of government’s
insensitivity. It is often said that when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. The masses are the ones having to pay more for transport and other services as any increase on the price of fuel has multiplier effect on every facet of the economy.
While we blame government for not reaching out to the striking workers on time, we must state that tanker drivers are now holding the country to ransom due to their selfish interest. They use all manner of flimsy excuses to embark on strike given their importance in the distribution chain of fuel in the country. They must realize that government has multitude of needs to meet in the country and not only that of tanker drivers. Having said that we demand a resolution of the disagreement between government and the union, to rescue Nigerians from further
hardship that fuel scarcity would exacerbate.

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