FG meets with PENGASSAN over warning strike

PENGASSAN-Logo-402 July 2013, Lagos – The Federal Government is meeting with the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, to avert a planned three-day warning strike.

The move is meant to compel the federal government to address perceived anti-labour practices in the oil and gas industry, as PENGASSAN had earlier issued a July 4, 2013, strike notice.

Ahead of the planned strike, the union directed all its branches, zones, Central Working Committee, CWC, and National Executive Council, NEC, to mobilise members for the 3-day action beginning Thursday.

However, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, throughout the weekend made frantic efforts to abort the planned strike to avoid the negative effects on Nigeria’s socio-economic system.

It was gathered that the Minister and union leaders were able to reach some resolution on some issues, while others were still undergoing negotiations.PENGASSAN explained that its decision to embark on the strike was informed by government’s continued refusal to address the myriad of industry and labour related issues, which the association had raised in recent past.

The notice of industrial action, signed by PENGASSAN Secretary, Bayo Olowoshile, was sent to Wogu on June 23.

It said: “This letter serves to inform the Minister of Labour and Productivity that PENGASSAN shall be constrained at the end of its 7-day ultimatum to direct a nationwide industrial action on the myriads of persisting industry and labour relations issues on which the association has severely drawn the attention of the federal government and call for deserved expedient intervention to no avail.”

PENGASSAN said it had made countless moves to resolve the issues with the minister to no avail.

The issues include; unfulfilled commitments by the Nigeria Contents Development Management Board, NCDMB, on companies’ breaches of the NCD Act, FTZ unionisation/collective bargaining, call for management cooperation and anti-union activities in pressure control, Vam Onne and Marine Platform.

Others are; PENGASSAN’s demand that status quo be maintained for the approved closed pension schemes as provided by Section 39 and 40 of the Pension Reform Act, delay in the gazetting of the ministerial guidelines on contract staffing and outsourcing in the oil and gas industry as well as the contractors/company’s circumvention of its provisions.

The union is further challenging what it described as un-procedural and hostile trends in divestments by investors without respect to due process, stressing that the process has resulted in massive loss of jobs.

Other current and emerging grievances that the union is seeking federal government’s intervention include; pipeline sabotage impacting on oil and gas production and exports as well as crude oil supplies for local refining activities, exclusion of PENGASSAN in the recently constituted committee addressing reported cases of pipeline sabotage/oil thefts, migration of permanent jobs to contract status and outsourcing of labour to deny Nigerians the rights and benefits of full employment and commensurate compensations in the oil and gas sector.

– Victor Ahiuma-Young, Vanguard.

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