Gabon averts oil strike threat for now

Gabon’s oil union Onep has relaunched talks with the government on a dispute over the use of expatriate labour, averting for now the threat of a strike in the sector.

“We are working on it, we are close to signing off a report on the negotiations,” Onep spokesperson Arnaud Engandji told national radio. “We have told our members to go about their activities as normal,” he added.

Separately, Oil Minister Alexandre Barro Chambrier told national radio: “Negotiations are protracted and difficult but taking place in a peaceful climate.”

Onep had been due to launch a strike on Monday to push demands for more local labour in a sector long dominated by expatriate workers.

The move follows the break-down of months of earlier talks with the government over the dispute, which triggered a four-day strike in April that shut down all of the central African state’s 240 000 barrels per day output.

Producers in Gabon include majors Total and Royal Dutch Shell and oil service groups such as US-based Baker Hughes.

Oil remains the top export earner of Gabon, one of the few sub-Saharan African countries to have a dollar-denominated bond. However the government of President Ali Bongo Odimba is seeking to diversify the economy to compensate for its dwindling reserves.—Reuters

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