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Gabon Oil-Industry Workers Begin Strike Over Labor

Source: Bloomberg 4/14/2010, Location: Africa

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Oil workers in Gabon, Africa’s sixth-biggest crude producer, began a strike over labor industry regulations, leading motorists in the capital city to queue for gasoline at filling stations.

The work stoppage started earlier this morning, Bernard Mve, an official in the Oil Ministry, said in a phone interview today from Libreville. The National Organization of Oil Workers, known by its French acronym ONEP, said yesterday that the strike would continue until the government concedes to its demands.

The labor union wants the government to change laws governing the status of foreign workers amid what it claims is an increasing trend in the hiring of foreigners for positions its members could fill, Control Risks, a London-based research firm, said in a statement today.

“The strike could prompt spontaneous and potentially violent demonstrations in the coming days, including at petrol and diesel stations where rationing measures may be put in place,” Control Risks said.

Gabon pumped 235,000 barrels of oil a day in 2008, according to BP Plc statistics. Nigeria, Angola, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea and Congo Republic are sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest crude producers. ONEP represents about 5,000 workers, Control Risks said.

Gabon’s government hasn’t made a formal statement yet on the strike.

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