FLASH| PENGASSAN Ignores FG’s Overtures, Begins Strike

by on July 8, 2016
Last minute moves by the Federal Govern­ment to avert today’s strike by oil workers failed on Thursday – paving the way for the strike to begin today.
The President of the Pe­troleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Mr. Francis Johnson, failed to show up at an emergency meeting called by the Min­istry of Labour and Employ­ment.
The meeting was earlier scheduled to hold today but when Johnson told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that there was no go­ing back on the strike, the government invited him for a meeting in Abuja.
But Johnson said that he did not attend the meeting be­cause he was consulting with PENGASSAN lead­ers in Lagos.
He confirmed that the strike will begin from 12 midnight today. It was learnt that the meeting to resolve the cri­sis will now hold on Mon­day next week.
Johnson admitted that he was invited to a meeting by the government on Thurs­day with a view to shelving the strike but he declined be­cause it was not conducive for PENGASSAN.
But the Office of the Minister of Labour and Em­ployment said that PEN­GASSAN, through the in­tervention of the Minister, Dr Chris Ngige, agreed to shelve the strike.
In the interview with NAN, Johnson said that there was no going back on the union’s planned strike slated for 12 midnight.
He said that the issues that prompted the strike had been pending for so long and that the government had not shown enough seriousness on them.
According to him, the government is trying to ap­ply a fire brigade approach to the serious issues raised by the oil workers.
“We have discussed this matter long enough for the government to address us but it closed its ears; now the authorities are calling for dialogue. We are ready to work with Mr. President to succeed but other agen­cies involved in the discus­sion were not showing seri­ous concern over the matter and we don’t have any choice than to proceed on strike,’’ he said.
Johnson said that the in­ability of the Federal Gov­ernment to honour its agree­ments contained in May 12, 2016 communiqué was the reason for calling for the strike.
He said that some of the issues included lingering ir­regular Joint Venture Fund­ing and Cash Call payment arrears, lack of a clear cut di­rection on the Petroleum In­dustry Bill (PIB).
Others are forceful co-option of government agen­cies into the Integrated Per­sonnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) and the spate of redundancy and retrench­ment in the industry.
He said that before now, the union tried to engage the government on May 24, 2016, which was inconclu­sive.
He added that the meet­ing was later fixed for June 23, 2016, which did not take place and again for June 30, 2016 and which was uncere­moniously cancelled with no date given.
“We see this as a delib­erate attempt by the govern­ment to frustrate the discus­sion of the myriad of issues raised in the communiqué which are critical to the sur­vival of the oil and gas indus­try in the country.
“Among the burning is­sues raised is that of the Joint Venture Funding/Cash Call arrears, which has stalled new investments and the creation of jobs and which has consequently brought about massive job losses.
“We have equally noted with great dismay that our tertiary institutions keep churning out graduates with no or very limited job place­ment opportunities,’’ John­son said.
“Even for those that are fortunate to have jobs, it has been a tug-of-war getting their salaries paid as when due and are faced with re­dundancies on a regular ba­sis, especially in the service sector.
“We cannot fold our hands and watch this grad­ual collapse of our strategic oil and gas industry and its attendant consequences on the nation’s economy.
“This is a sharp contrast to the present government avowed promised to create and retain jobs,’’ he said.

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