Fuel Scarcity Looms as Oil Workers Threaten Strike
LAGOS JULY 5TH (URHOBOTODAY)–There is fear of an impending fuel scarcity in the country as the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria has ordered its members to leave their duty posts in all oil installations and offices throughout Nigeria as from July 7, 2016 beginning from 12.01hrs.
PENGASSAN has also ordered its four zones, which are Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri Zone and Kaduna, to commence sensitisation of its members with details of the planned action as from Monday (yesterday).
The strike, according to a statement signed by the PENGASSAN Acting General Secretary, Comrade Lumumba Okugbawa, will affect all sub-sectors of the oil and gas industry, which are upstream, midstream and downstream.
In a memo dated July 4, 2016 and addressed to all zonal chairmen, secretaries, branch chairmen and secretaries, the Senior Staff Association directed its members to embark on gradual withdrawal of services from their various offices, sites and production facilities as from Thursday.
The memo, which was signed by the Acting General Secretary of PENGASSAN, cited the inability of the Federal Government to honour agreements contained in a May 12, 2016 Communiqué as the reason for calling for the strike.
The Senior Staff Trade Union listed some of the issues to include lingering irregular Joint Venture funding and Cash Call payment arrears, lack of a clear cut direction on the Petroleum Industry Bill, forceful co-option of government agencies in the industry into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System and spate of redundancy and retrenchment in the industry.
The Association said several efforts to engage the government to forestall the strike were frustrated by the Government.
PENGASSAN stated that sequel to the above subject, the Association tried to engage the Federal Government on May 24, 2016, which was inconclusive.
The engagement was later fixed for June 23, 2016, which did not take place, and again for June 30, 2016, which was unceremoniously cancelled with no date given.
It said: “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 JV Funding/Cash Call arrears, which has stalled new investments and the creation of jobs in the industry and which has consequently brought about massive job losses in the industry. We have equally noted with great dismay that our tertiary institutions keep churning out graduates with no or very limited job placement opportunities for them. Even for those that are fortunate to have jobs it has been tug of war getting their salaries paid as at and when due and are faced with redundancies on a regular basis also, 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, which is a sharp contrast to the present government’s avowed promised to creation and retention of jobs.”
Speaking on the impending fuel crisis, the National Public Relations Officer of PENGASSAN, Comrade Emmanuel Ojugbana, said all aspects of the oil and gas operations will be affected as there will be a total shut down of the industry.
Ojugbana said: “There won’t be any activities by our members. All aspects, including loading of petroleum products, flow stations and jetties will be shut down in this strike until the government address our concerns that are impacting the industry negatively.”
It would be recalled that PENGASSAN, after its National Executive Council meeting in Calabar, Cross Rivers State on May 12, 2016, issued a seven-day ultimatum with effect from May 16, 2016, for the government to engage the Association on the myriad of challenges confronting the nation’s oil and gas industry.
After the expiration of the ultimatum without any move from the government, the Senior Staff trade union issued another seven day ultimatum on June 19, 2016, which was again unheeded by the government.