The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, on Wednesday, October 14, 2015 embarked on a strike action following a directive by the Eastern Zone of the union in Rivers State, urging their members to suspend loading and distribution of petroleum products.
This action has been followed by long queues at some fuel stations in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
According to the Union’s Chairman, Mr Godwin Eruba, the decision became paramount following an alleged harassment their members faced from the police at the premises of an oil firm, Weatherford Nigeria Limited.
According to Vanguard, Eruba said members were picketing the firm over labour related issues when policemen allegedly started molesting the union members.
The union’s national industrial officer, Mr. Bassey Harry, said they would only call off the strike after the police officers in question are arrested and made to face the law.
The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, called on the state government, commissioner of police and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity to speed up action to resolve the crisis.
Additionally, the State Chairman of TUC, Mr Chika Unuegbu, expressed shock over that the police officials could be so ruthless over a labour related issue.
However, the police spokesperson in the state, DSP Ahmad Muhammad, said their men were only trying to assist bailiffs/officials to enforce a court verdict from the National Industrial Court, Yenegoa, Bayelsa State.
He explained in a statement that the court officials requested the assistance of the Police, adding that the police merely ensured that there was no break down of law and order while the bailiffs and court officials went about their assignments.
He said: “It is relevant to state that the Rivers State Police Command acted on the request of court bailiffs to enforce a court judgment delivered by Justice J. T. Agbambu-Fishim of the National Industrial Court, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
“In such circumstances, it is the constitutional mandate of the Police to maintain law and order during the execution of the court judgment which was purely done by the court bailiffs without police actually taking part in the execution. The Police were merely performing their constitutional duties in line with the principles of natural justice and rule of law.”