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Dow Jones Newswires: Nigeria Oil Unions, Govt Meet on Strike Threat Thursday

By Vincent Nwanma
LAGOS Thursday, September 07, 2006 

Representatives of Nigeria’s two oil unions are meeting in Abuja Thursday with officials of the Ministry of Labor and other stakeholders in the oil industry, over threats by the unions to start a three-day strike from Sept. 13, a source close to the unions said Thursday.

The source said however that the outcome of the meeting would not change the workers’ resolve to embark on the “warning” strike.

“Sept. 13 is non-negotiable and irrevocable,” he told Dow Jones Newswires Thursday.

An announcement Wednesday night by the ministry on government-run Nigerian Television Authority, said the meeting was called to address “an impending labor crisis” in the nation’s oil and gas industry.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, or Pegassan, and National Union of Petroleum and Natural gas workers, or Nupeng, agreed last week to embark on the strike in protest over increasing level of insecurity in the Niger Delta, where militant groups in the area have abducted scores of oil workers this year.

The militants have usually released the hostages-after the payment of ransom – but two Nigerian oil workers have died. One of them, an employee of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) died in crossfire between the militants and government forces. Another, an employee of an oil-service company was also found dead near Port Harcourt after he was abducted on his way home from work.

Pengassan and Nupeng said the Sept. 13 strike was aimed at forcing government address the insecurity problem in the Delta, but warned that they would be compelled to withdraw their services indefinitely, if government failed to respond to the demands.

Others expected at the meeting include representatives of oil companies and some state governments in the Niger Delta.

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