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This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Nigeria: Labor Actions

Nigeria: Labor Actions
Date distributed (ymd): 971103
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: West Africa
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +political/rights+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains several recent communications from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy,Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), protesting against continued detention of union leaders in Nigeria and calling for action against Nigerian oil exports. For updates see the ICEM web site.

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

ICEM
avenue Emile de Beco 109, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium.
tel.+32.2.6262020 fax +32.2.6484316
Internet: icem@geo2.poptel.org.uk
Web: http://www.icem.org/

14 October 1997

TO ALL ICEM AFFILIATES IN THE OIL SECTOR (FOR ACTION)
TO ALL
OTHER ICEM AFFILIATES (FOR INFORMATION)

Dear Colleagues,

ICEM ACTION AGAINST NIGERIAN OIL EXPORTS

We regret to inform you that our colleagues Milton Dabibi, General Secretary of the ICEM-affiliated Nigerian oil and gas workers' union PENGASSAN, and Frank Kokori, General Secretary of the ICEM-affiliated Nigerian oil and gas workers' union NUPENG, are still being detained without charge or trial by the Nigerian military regime. Both are in poor health, and are being denied the medical attention that they need. They are also being denied access to their lawyers and their trade unions. Visits by their families are severely restricted.

Frank Kokori has been in prison since 1994, and Milton Dabibi since January 1996. Their trade unions have been subjected to government intervention ever since the Nigerian oil workers' strike of 1994. Both men are recognised by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.

Directly and through various intermediaries, the ICEM has repeatedly called upon the Nigerian authorities to release our colleagues, but we have received no response. We now have every reason to be concerned about the safety and well-being of Milton Dabibi and Frank Kokori. There were some grounds for hoping that they might be amnestied at the beginning of this month, and we kept further action on hold in the meantime. However, in his speech on 1 October, the Nigerian head of state Gen. Sani Abacha made no mention of any such amnesty.

The ICEM Presidium, meeting in Hannover on 11-12 October, therefore decided that the ICEM must now initiate the action mandated by our World Congress (Washington, November 1995) - namely, targeted action against Nigerian oil exports.

As soon as we learn of any Nigerian oil shipments headed towards your country, we will inform you of the name of the oil tanker concerned and its estimated date of arrival. We ask you then to take all appropriate action to ensure that Nigerian oil is not unloaded in your country.

In some countries, this may entail cooperation with dockers' or transport workers' unions. We have informed the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) of our intended action.

Wherever possible, we will also inform you which company owns the oil that is to be targeted. The targets of this action are not the oil multinationals, but the Nigerian regime and its oil company, the NNPC. However, since virtually all Nigerian oil exports are within the framework of joint ventures with multinationals, these companies will also inevitably be affected by our campaign. We suggest that, in the case of any companies with which you have reasonably good relations, you give advance notice of your intended action, and at the same time take the opportunity to press the company concerned to use its influence to help secure the release of Milton Dabibi and Frank Kokori.

In the nature of the international oil trade, cargoes can change both ownership and port of destination while on the high seas. There may therefore be some "false alarms". However, we will keep you informed - by the fastest means available - about any changes in the status of shipments.

The start of this action campaign, about which we have repeatedly warned the Nigerian authorities, will be formally announced on Monday 20 October at 07.00 Brussels time. It will continue until the end of November, at which time we will decide if it should be prolonged.

We will be working to secure maximum publicity, and we would appreciate it if you could also bring the press release below to the attention of your own media contacts, while insisting on respect for the date and time of the press embargo. We can provide portrait photos of Milton Dabibi and Frank Kokori to you or to media representatives on request.

We are also producing a poster in various languages, a scaled-down copy of which is enclosed. Please let us know how many copies of the poster you require, and in which languages.

On 24-27 October, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, will have to decide on Nigeria's membership of the Commonwealth. That membership is currently suspended because of the Nigerian regime's human rights abuses. In cooperation with the Commonwealth Trade Union Council (CTUC), which has already carried out some excellent lobbying for us on this matter, we intend to hold a demonstration outside the conference venue, calling for the expulsion of Nigeria from the Commonwealth unless Milton Dabibi and Frank Kokori are released and full trade union rights are restored in Nigeria.

The CTUC are currently consulting on the best date and time for the demonstration, and we will inform you of these as soon as possible. Participants from all ICEM affiliates, whether from Commonwealth countries or not, will be very welcome at this demonstration.

[Note: the Commonwealth continued the suspension of Nigeria, but postponed expulsion and decided to review the issue after October 1, 1998, the date of Nigeria's promised return to civilian rule. More reporting on the meeting can be found at: http://www.oneworld.org/chogm97]

Thank you for showing solidarity with our Nigerian colleagues in their time of need. Please keep the ICEM informed of all action taken.

Yours fraternally,

Vic Thorpe, General Secretary Peter Michalzik, Deputy General Secretary


PRESS RELEASE

MONDAY 20 OCTOBER 1997

WORLD UNION ACTION AGAINST NIGERIAN OIL EXPORTS

A campaign of targeted action against Nigerian oil exports was today announced by the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM).

The action is aimed at securing the release of Milton Dabibi, General Secretary of the ICEM-affiliated Nigerian oil and gas workers' union PENGASSAN, and Frank Kokori, General Secretary of the ICEM-affiliated Nigerian oil and gas workers' union NUPENG.

Both are being detained without charge or trial by the Nigerian military regime. Dabibi and Kokori are in poor health, and are being denied the medical attention that they need. They are also being denied access to lawyers and to their trade unions. Visits by their families are severely restricted.

Frank Kokori has been in detention since 1994, and Milton Dabibi since January 1996. Their trade unions have been subjected to government intervention ever since the Nigerian oil workers' strike of 1994. Both men are recognised by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.

Directly and through various intermediaries, the ICEM has repeatedly called upon the Nigerian authorities to release the two oil workers' leaders, but has received no response. There were some grounds for hope that Dabibi, Kokori and a number of other detainees would be amnestied at the beginning of this month. However, in a major policy speech on 1 October, the Nigerian head of state Gen. Sani Abacha made no mention of any such amnesty.

The ICEM has therefore now served notice that it will take action - without further warning - against the delivery of selected Nigerian oil exports worldwide. This notice will remain in force until Milton Dabibi and Frank Kokori are released.

The ICEM and the Commonwealth Trade Union Council will also be calling upon the Commonwealth to expel Nigeria unless the two union leaders are released and full trade union rights restored. Nigeria's Commonwealth membership is currently suspended, and further action is on the agenda of the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Edinburgh, 24-27 October).

MEDIA CONTACT: Ian Graham, ICEM Information Officer, tel. +32.2.6262054 fax +32.2.6484316 e-mail icem@geo2.poptel.org.uk

Note: Photos of Milton Dabibi and Frank Kokori are available on request.


ICEM UPDATE

No. 64/1997

29 October 1997

The following is from the International Federation of Chemical, Energy,Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM):

NIGERIAN OIL UNIONS IN STRIKE TALKS WITH GOVERNMENT.

"APPLY PRESSURE NOW" CALL TO WORLD'S UNIONS.

Talks are now underway in the Nigerian capital Abuja between oil workers' unions and the petroleum ministry, a Nigerian oil union officer told ICEM UPDATE this evening.

The negotiations centre on the non-payment of salaries to workers at the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), which administers Nigeria's oil exports.

DPR workers have been in dispute since Monday over wage arrears and other issues. Amongst other measures, they locked the gates of oil export terminals and locked DPR managers out of their offices. The workers are members of oil workers' unions PENGASSAN and NUPENG, which at the global level are affiliated to the 20-million-strong International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM).

Nigeria's military government has been served notice of a worldwide ICEM campaign of targeted action against Nigerian oil exports. The campaign aims to secure the release of PENGASSAN General Secretary Milton Dabibi and NUPENG General Secretary Frank Kokori, both of whom are being held without trial.

In Lagos, petrol is now in short supply and the queues at filling stations are even longer than usual. At present, this appears to be due mainly to hoarding by suppliers and panic buying by consumers. However, Nigerians have bitter experience of similar shortages in the past.

Minister of Petroleum Resources Dan Etete this week tabled an offer to pay oustanding salaries to DPR workers for September and October, and called a meeting for 7 November. In return, he requested the immediate suspension of the strike. However, according to the union officer, DPR workers replied that other issues also had to be addressed first, notably "that workers should be given adequate facilities to perform their duties."

"At the moment, the dispute is continuing," the union officer said. "Discussions are still going on in Abuja."

The discussions are understood to be at a high level, although many senior ministry and DPR officials are now thought to be outside Nigeria.

"Some terminals have opened again," the union officer said, "but they are having to operate them with senior management staff. It should be emphasised that this is a dispute concerning the DPR local branches of PENGASSAN and NUPENG, rather than the national unions. The issues in the forefront concern the pay and conditions of DPR workers. However, it might be that other issues could be raised in the background."

Frank Kokori has been detained without trial since 1994, and Milton Dabibi since January 1996. Both are in poor health and are being denied proper access to medical treatment. They have also been denied access to lawyers and to their unions. Visits by their families are severely restricted. Dabibi and Kokori are both recognised by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience. Nigeria's own National Human Rights Commission is understood to have recommended this September that Dabibi, Kokori and a number of other detainees be released on humanitarian grounds.

PENGASSAN and NUPENG have been subjected to severe repression ever since the Nigerian oil workers' strike of 1994. Police and troops occupied the unions' offices. Many union leaders were arrested or driven into hiding. Government-imposed "sole administrators" were sent in to run the unions instead. Union bank accounts were frozen and the check-off of union dues was banned. Many of the oil workers dismissed for taking part in the strike have never been reinstated.

"We call on all our union brothers and sisters worldwide to apply maximum pressure now for democratisation, for trade union independence in Nigeria, for the release of our detained leaders and for the withdrawal of government administrators from our offices," the union officer said. "Only independent trade unions can work properly and resolve the kind of industrial dispute that we are now facing."

[Note: According to the Panafrican News Agency (PANA), the strike was suspended on October 31, following an agreement to return the DPR to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.]

Editor: Ian Graham, Information Officer
Publisher: Vic Thorpe, General Secretary.


This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), the educational affiliate of the Washington Office on Africa. APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.


URL for this file: http://www.africafocus.org/docs97/nig9711.che.php