Fuel scarcity looms across the country
THE Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have threatened to embark on a nationwide strike if some industrial issues especially anti-labour practices by some employers in the oil and gas industry were not addressed within 21 days.
While the NUPENG President, Comrade Igwe Achese, gave an indication of possible fuel scarcity in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja after the union National Executive Council meeting held in Abuja, PENGASSAN said in a statement by the Public Relations Officer, Comrade Fortune Obi, that a 21-day ultimatum giving to stakeholders in the oil and gas industry, was necessary due to persistent anti-labour practices by the management of some companies in the sector.
Comrade Achese said the union after its NEC meeting, has taken a decision to stop fuel supply to Abuja and its environs.
According to him, NUPENG has resolved to shut down supply of petroleum products to Abuja in the next 24 days unless the federal government prevail on the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to pay the entitlements of workers of Sea wolf who were disengaged since 2013 after AMCON took over the company.
He pointed out that the union had issued a directive to petroleum tanker drivers, and all its members in the oil sector to wear red in preparation for the planned industrial action in Abuja.
He said: “For four years, we have been discussing the issue of redundancy or closure of the company called Sea wolf which AMCON as a federal agency took over in 2013.
“It is very unfortunate to state here that workers of the company have not been paid. AMCON has refused to pay these workers their terminal benefits since 2013.
“Therefore, the union in a very strong revolution is requesting the government to prevail on AMCON to pay the workers. We have written series of letters to the security agencies, the ministry of Labour and employment, the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the Department of State Services and others. AMCON instead of paying took the matter to court and we are faced with series of adjournment since 2013.
“We therefore have no choice than to write an open letter to the Acting President to take all necessary measures to address the issue of Sea wolf. However, we have issued notice to the government in the letter that we wrote that failure to address this problem, the NEC in session has taken a decision that within two weeks of not addressing this issue, NUPENG will withdraw our services into Abuja and around its environment.
“At this point we are also directing all our PTD, workers across the entire country to begin to wear red, and tanker drivers to carry this on their trucks in readiness for this struggle; it is the responsibility of government to make sure that workers in the companies that they took over are paid their terminal benefits.”
Also in a statement signed by the PENGASSAN, the association therefore called on the relevant stakeholders to address issues of concern affecting its members within the stipulated days to avert the consequences of its next line of action.
The statement issued on Sunday evening read: “PENGASSAN in the last three years has not only been excessively stretched but equally unnecessarily over-burdened and is fast running out of patience over the loss of will by various managements to attend to industrial/welfare issues.
“Particularly frustrating is the sustained, deliberate and indiscriminate redundancies, sack, casualization, ill-treatment, adverse work condition, incessant disagreement to collective bargain resolutions and other anti-labour practices against our members by these managements without recourse to extant labour laws.”
The PENGASSAN identified in particular the provocative stance of managements of the Fugro, Sterling Global, Indorama Petrochemical Company, Baker Hughes/General Electric, Universal Energy, Frontier Energy, Vam Onne, Neconde Energy and ObiJackson Group, SDF, Ciscon, Tecon, Obax, Pan Ocean, NNPC Retail Limited, Exxon-Mobil and Petrobras.
To this end, the PENGASSAN spokesperson said that the Association has directed the Zonal Executive Councils, in the four zones of Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kaduna and Warri, to commence systematic mobilization of its members for the planned action.
He said that the Association also called on leadership of the National Assembly to reconsider the amendment of NLNG Act which, the Association alleged will portend danger in Federal Government’s push to woo investors into the country.
PENGASSAN also commented on certain provisions of the just passed Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) by the Senate that need revision to address some labour concerns, adding that the association observed that labour unions, especially the PENGASSAN and NUPENG were over-looked in the membership composition of the governing boards of the regulatory entities in the bill.
Obi explained that PENGASSAN is a body of professionals who are best equipped to access and make inputs to policies in the petroleum industry by the virtue of their positions and in-depth knowledge in the Industry.
PENGASSAN also observed with dismay the loose of condition of service with regards to job security/transfer of employment of staff in the existing agencies.
PENGASSAN will resist any attempt under whatever guise to downsize or short-change Nigerian workers.