Oil marketers begin retrenchment of workers over N650bn FG debt

Oil marketers have commenced a reduction of their workforce over their inability to pay staff salaries. Some of the marketers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed on Wednesday in Lagos that they resorted to massive sack of their workers following the Federal Government’s failure to pay an outstanding N650 billion debts owed them.

They said they had no other option to control their increasing debt burden from borrowing to pay salaries than to embark on staff disengagement. According to them, the majority of marketers are heavily exposed to banks because of funds they borrowed to pay workers’ salaries. “Retrenchment became necessary as some marketers have already closed their depots, while others have also reduced workers’ salaries by 75 per cent due to their inability to sustain salary payments. “It is a difficult time for oil marketers because we are currently facing the headwinds in the oil market. Some of our members are finding it difficult to pay salaries and other overhead costs,’’ one of the marketers told newsmen.

They, therefore, urged the Federal Government to expedite action on the payment of outstanding debts owed to marketers, in order to help them to sustain their businesses. It was further learnt that the marketers were under intense pressure from their banks and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), “with looming threats of imminent take-over of their petrol stations and tank farms.

“In the light of the above and after exhausting all formal avenues to secure payment of these debts, we have notified the Federal Government of the likelihood of disengaging our personnel.

“We are told that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the payment of the debt, but it is yet to get to the National Assembly for their appropriation. We hope this will be addressed to salvage the situation.”

Recall that the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria (DAPPMAN) on February 20, gave the government a 14-day ultimatum to settle the N650 billion debts owed to its members.

The Executive Secretary of the association, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, had said failure to meet the deadline would compel marketers to disengage their workers.

Adewole alleged that a letter was written to the Presidency on January 24 but the government had failed to respond to the needs of the petroleum marketers.