Govt summons stakeholders meeting over PENGASSAN strike

Victor Ahiuma-Young

10 April 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS — IN a desperate move to stop the three-day nationwide warning strike by Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), beginning from April 16, the Federal Government has called for a stakeholders’ meeting on Thursday.

The meeting is expected 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 previously 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 and individuals to discuss the Petroleum Industry Bill, PIB, for tomorrow.
Deputy General Secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okugbawa, said, Monday, 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, threatened that all activities in the both downstream and upstream sectors of the industry would be shut down during the three-day 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, listed the association’s grievances to include “unjustifiable mass disengagement and migration of workers to contract staffing and casuals in the downstream sector as well as disengagement by most of the downstream companies of its members inherited upon privatisation.
Other greviances are unfair labour practices and anti-union activities of companies in Onne Free Trade Zone, failure to engage PENGASSAN on issues in the PIB before final passage, failure bythe Police authorities to provide PENGASSAN the report on the killings of two of it members at 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, among others.
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