Oil marketers have commenced a reduction of their workforce due to their inability to pay staff salaries.
Some of the marketers, who preferred anonymity, confirmed to NAN on Wednesday in Lagos that they resorted to mass sack of their workers as the Federal Government had not paid an outstanding N650 billion debts owed them.
They said they did not have any other option to control their increasing debt burden of borrowing to pay salaries than to embark on staff disengagement.
According to them, the majority of marketers were indebted 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 the payments.
“It is a difficult time for the 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 NAN.
They, therefore, urged the federal government to expedite action on the payment of outstanding debts owed to marketers, in order to help them sustain their businesses.
Another source said the marketers were under continuous pressure from their banks and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), “with looming threats of imminent take-over of our petrol stations and tank farms.”
The source added that “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 signed for the payment of the debt but it is yet to get to the National Assembly for their consent.
“We hope this will be addressed to salvage the situation.’’
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 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 plight of the petroleum marketers.