Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: PENGASSAN Strike - FG Summons Stakeholders Meeting for Thursday

Lagos — IN a desperate efforts to apprehend the three-day nationwide warning strike by PENGASSAN and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, beginning from April 16, the Federal Government has called for a stakeholders' meeting for Thursday to address the oil workers' grievances and avoid a potentially devastating strike on the nation's ecomony.

In a notice to government over the planned industrial action, the umbrella body for senior employees in the nation's Oil and Gas sector listed not less than 16 grievances affecting members in the industry which it had reported to appropriate government agencies and departments to no avail.

It was gathered that the government also called for a meeting of appropriate agencies, associations, groups, individuals to discuss the issue of Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, for tomorrow.

Deputy General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okugbawa, said yesterday, that the meeting called by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, would have in attendance Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, all the management of oil companies PENGASSAN has issues with, the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC among others.

He said the outcome of the meeting would determine whether the planned strike scheduled for Monday, would go ahead as planned.

PENGASSAN had in a petition to the Federal Government through the Minister of Labour and Productivity, the association threatened that all activities in the both downstream and upstream would be shut down during the three days warning strike in preparatory for an indefinite action should government fail to address its grievances after the warning strike.

PENGASSAN in the petition by its General Secretary, Bayo Olowoshile, named the association's grievances to include "unjustifiable mass disengagement and migration of workers to contract staffing and casuals in the downstream Oil & Gas Products Marketing and Distribution Sectors, most of the downstream Companies today have totally disengaged members inherited upon privatization. Unfair labour practices and anti-union activities of Companies in Onne Free Trade Zone, failure to engage PENGASSAN on issues in the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, before final passage, police Authority's failure to provide PENGASSAN the Reports on its Findings on the killings of our two (2) members of NPDC suspected to have been gruesomely killed by unknown assailant at police check-point and government insensitivity in the handling of Fuel Subsidy Removal Re-. investment Programme thereby forestalling the anticipated stimulation of Investment and Business growth."

"Lack of readiness on the part of National Content Development Monitoring Board, NCDMB, to engage PENGASSAN on its activities and its Implementation Guidelines, government insincerity in handling NNPC and National Refineries, dilapidated Road network in majority of State in the Country, and all Oil & Gas facilities access road, kidnapping and general insecurity of members, new Tax Law still regressive bringing about high burden incidence on take home of Oil workers, lack of access of Oil workers to NHF despite years of contribution, government abuse of Nigerians trust and office by allocating government land choice property in Federal Capital Territory to themselves and parties and cronies without considering Nigerian workers who are the Tax payers and illegal dissolution of Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, board, invariably betraying Nigerian trust and abusing subsidy regime with unrealistic templates, Non inclusion of PENGASSAN on Boards/Committee dealing with Oil Industry issues, Insensitive removal of PTI, a Strategic Institution of the Oil Industry from the (provisions of the PIB and Non-committed efforts towards transition of PEF to Petroleum Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF)."

According to the petition " We write to notify the Minister of Labour and Productivity on the frustration and displeasure of our members in general and the Association in particular over the alarming rate of unfair labour practices, anti-union activities and the unsavory approach of the relevant Ministries Department and Agencies in appropriately attending to the reported issues. Arising from the above, we hereby notify you of a 3-day nationwide warning strike that would necessitate total withdrawal of all our members from work locations with effect from Monday, April 16, 2012.

"PENGASSAN, despite being unappreciated, undermined and chastised persistently tried to maintain relative calm in the hope that Government is fully committed, focused and utmost working in the manner that will either caution, discourage or prevent the high rate of jobs losses, unfair labour practices, anti-union activities and misadministration of national content laws to the detriment of our nationals and employment situation in the industry.

PENGASSAN has now resolved to embark on mass campaign and advocacy to bring the attention of the Nigeria public to the issues in the Nigeria Oil & Gas which point very glooming picture for the entire nation."

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