…Workers to be available for talks with govt. officials on Monday
Labour leaders have said they will not be available for a meeting with the Federal Government scheduled for today, as oil workers, yesterday, Thursday made good their threat to begin a nationwide strike despite frantic efforts by government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to stop the action.
Workers, on the platform of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, had begun gradual withdrawal from offshore, loading bays and flow stations. Among the grievances are Joint Ventures, JV, funding/cash call arrears, which the union said had stalled investment and creation of new jobs.
Others include lack of a clear-cut direction on the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, forcible co-option of government agencies in the industry into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System, IPPIS, and the spate of redundancy and retrenchments in the oil and gas industry.
An earlier meeting scheduled for Thursday between leaders of oil workers and government representatives was later shifted to today on the prompting of government. However, labour leaders have written government that they would not be available for today’s meeting, saying they would be ready on Monday.
In a notice postponing yesterday’s meeting, an official of the Ministry of Labour, which convened the meeting, wrote to inform the labour leaders.
It read in part: “I am directed by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, to inform you that in consideration of the season and national holidays, the conciliation meeting earlier scheduled to hold on Thursday, July 7, shall now hold on Friday, July 8, by 11a.m. at the Boardroom of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, 12th floor, NNPC Towers.”
Responding to the notice, PENGASSAN wrote to the government: “We have looked at the contents and analysed the possibility of holding such a meeting at such short notice, considering the period of festivities also. “It is based on the above that we are suggesting that we meet with you on Monday, July 11. However, please note that it is the National Executive Council, NEC-in-session that can vacate this action (strike).”
PENGASSAN National Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojugbana, said in a statement on Thursday: “There is no iota of truth in the report that the strike had been called off or suspended.
“Some of our members offshore have been withdrawn, while those on critical equipment have commenced gradual shutting down before final disengagement. “Our members, especially those in offices and downstream sector, will join tomorrow (today) as they resume from Eid-el-Fitr holiday.”