Though millions of Nigerians were protesting in the streets against the repeal of subsidies in January 2012, the government did not call for negotiations until the oil unions threatened to shut down oil production. However, production was never shut down, and the oil unions were criticised for “empty threats” and for abandoning their historical democratic role. To better understand the opportunities and constraints of Nigerian oil workers, this study explores how casualisation processes and conflict interlink and affect the local labour regime and the oil unions' powers in the Niger Delta. The labour fragmentations and erosions of labour power from casualisation have been exacerbated when unfolding into this context of conflictual and fragmented social relations. Despite the oil unions' strategic position in the oil industry and their relatively high union density, these processes have challenged both their structural and associational powers.