The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has declared a nationwide strike, sparking fears of fuel scarcity in the country.
PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo, confirmed the union’s position during his appearance on Sunrise Daily on Monday.
“Today, PENGASSAN has declared a strike,” he said in an interview on the Channels Television breakfast programme.
He added, “Today our members are sitting at home and we will continually watch the situation and if we need to rev it up, we will definitely rev it up.”
Osifo explained that the industrial action followed the inability of the Federal Government to address the issues raised by the oil and gas workers.
He stated that the union had given the government a seven-day ultimatum in a statement issued on Monday last week to respond to the issues.
Another issue that is of concern to the union, according to the PENGASSAN president, is that relating to the action of a private oil company.
He accused the company of destroying PENGASSAN structure in its workforce, stressing that the management sacked literarily all union executive members and went ahead to lock members out for a very long time.
The major issues raised by the oil and gas workers were a fallout of the implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) by the government regarding the payment of salaries.
In his reaction, Osifo accused the government of negligence in the manner it was handling the issues, saying that has led the union to take the decision to go on strike.
He stated that the union made several attempts to resolve the issues raised as a result of the shortfall in workers’ salaries and arrears.
“It is negligence on the part of the government representatives, that we are where we are today.”
While the union said that it does not have a preference for any tool used by the government to pay salaries, workers’ remuneration must be paid without any shortfall.
Osifo decried that the arrears and allowances of some union members at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), were ceased sometimes in the year.
He explained that the conversation on the issue of IPPIS started several years ago and PENGASSAN engaged relevant government agencies on how the platform should be structured to take cognisance of workers’ pay in the oil and gas sector.
“We agreed with the government that we should set up a technical committee that will look into these issues one after the other, to be sure that our specific earning in the oil and gas industry is taken care of.
“At the end of the day, the committee was set up but the government was not committed to it, we fixed a date for a meeting and when our members get there, we will wait from morning till night, and nothing was done,” the PENGASSAN president said.
He added, “For us in PENGASSAN, we don’t specifically mind the tool that the government will use in paying our salaries, but what we are saying is that any tool that you want to use in paying our salaries must not short-change our members.
“Today, they have forcefully enrolled our members in NNRA without data capturing and without biometrics.
“In NNRA today, they paid them the last two months salary via IPPIS and it will shock you to note that most of our members got at least 30 per cent reduction in their pay and a lot of allowances that they earn were nor paid as well.”