Dr Ngige, Minister of Labour
By Bimbola Oyebola and Magnus Eze, Abuja
THE Federal Government will today meet with the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG).
The parley aims to stave off an industrial action in the oil and gas sector, as well as seek lasting solution to lingering problems in the industry.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, will lead government’s delegation to the meeting. The meeting will hold at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, NNPC Towers, Abuja.
A statement by the Deputy Director of Press, Mr. Samuel Olowookere, expressed the optimism that the meeting would proffer enduring solution to the volatile issues plaguing the nation’s oil and gas sector. The two unions backed deregulation of the sector, including the recent hike in pump price of petrol. If the parley fails, PENGASSAN signified intent, yesterday, to embark on an indefinite, nationwide strike today.
National Public Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, Emmanuel Ojugbana, who insisted that the strike would go on as proposed, denied knowledge of any planned meeting with government.
Rather, he said sequel to the memo to all chairmen and secretaries in the four zones and branches on the planned shutdown of the operations and activities in the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, all was set for the strike.
“Members met in all the zones to fine-tune the strategies and modalities for the strike on Tuesday, while key officers had their meeting on yesterday. In the meeting, the gradual method of shutdown was critically examined and adopted by the members. The action, which will cripple all activities and operations in the oil and gas sector, will affect all the sub sectors as our members in the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (Monitoring Board) PEF (MB), Pipelines and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), oil majors, labour and contract services companies, and petroleum products marketing companies will join in the action.”
Calling for understanding of all Nigerians and operators that would be impacted by the action, Ojugbana said the industrial action is critical to the survival of the oil and gas industry, which currently is the mainstay of the nation’s economy. The union had earlier listed some issues for the strike to include lingering irregular Joint Venture funding and Cash Call payment arrears, lack of a clear cut direction on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), forceful co-option of government agencies in the industry into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), and spate of redundancy and retrenchment in the industry. The association said several efforts to engage the government to forestall the strike were frustrated by the government.
PENGASSAN had stated, “sequel to the above subject, the association tried to engage the federal government on May 24, 2016, which was inconclusive. The engagement was later fixed for June 23, 2016, which did not take place, and again for June 30, 2016, which was unceremoniously cancelled with no date given.” The Sun