29 October 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has advised the National Union Of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to shelve their planned strike over the alleged sacking of 3,000 of its members by oil companies.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, made the appeal when speaking to newsmen on Friday in Abuja.
The unions, which represent workers in the oil and gas industry, had called on the federal government to intervene on the matter by putting a stop to the sacking of its members.
They had earlier on October 26 given a 21-day ultimatum to the government.
Ngige said that the ministry had earlier in the year had several meetings with the employers, leadership of the unions and employees in which an agreement was reached.
He said, “We all had an agreement and the agreement was that instead of retrenchment, they should focus on reducing some of their top most positions of the establishments. We also agreed that some allowances should be shielded up, while some offices of directors and top management staff should be pegged.
“They all agreed and that is what they have been doing, we also formed a kind of forum between the employers, employees and unions with my ministry.”
Ngige added that the forum is supposed to be meeting to fashion out oil and gas labour relations which will guide whatever is happening there.
“I do not know if NUPGENG is dissatisfied with what is coming out from that forum,” he stated.
The minister recalled that two months ago NUPGENG and PENGASSAN had submitted petitions against the oil and gas companies, and there were marathon meetings held with the employers.
He said the ministry had then convened series of meetings where issues were looked into on companies’ basis to understand why they should not retrench.
Ngige noted that he had then directed the companies to recall their retrenched workers as the right procedures and due process as stipulated in Section 20 of the Redundancy Law was not followed.
He said, “I will find out why NUPGENG is issuing the 21-day ultimatum and also call for a meeting to look at the developing issues. If there are particular companies that have deviated from the agreement we have reached, we will call those companies and ask them to comply.”