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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has fired 850 workers, many of them from refineries, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, an oil union said on Tuesday.
The workers are both skilled and unskilled contractors, including technicians who helped maintain Nigeria’s oil refineries.
This is according to a statement jointly signed by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN).
It was signed by Williams Akporeha (NUPENG National President), Ndukaku Ohaeri (PENGASSAN National President), Afolabi Olawale (NUPENG General Secretary), and Lumumba Okugbawa (PENGASSAN General Secretary).
The NNPC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Layoffs in Nigeria’s oil sector are a tense issue, with frequent stand-offs between the NNPC and unions. Nigeria is dependent on crude sales to prop up its struggling economy, now at risk of its worst recession in four decades due to the coronavirus and the pandemic tanking global oil prices.
Yet Nigeria’s refineries are barely operational. Almost all of the country’s fuel supply is processed overseas at a high cost, despite Nigeria being Africa’s largest crude producer.