• Friday, June 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Panic buying of PMS imminent as PENGASSAN mobilises for nationwide strike

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Queues are expected to grow in various filling stations in Abuja as well as other major capital cities as from today, Friday as oil workers under the aegis of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), mobilise members for nationwide strike.
In line with its directive, oil workers at various depots and refineries have been mandated to shut down facilities gradually, BusinessDay gathered.
The leadership of the PENGASSAN had on Thursday shunned the proposed reconciliatory meeting initiated by Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment which was scheduled to hold at the Minister of Petroleum Resources’ conference room located within the headquarters of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) complex, Abuja.
Samuel Olowookere, Deputy Director (Press) who confirmed this however noted that the reconciliatory meeting “has been postponed till Monday morning by 11am, and the same venue because of the Sallah and public holiday.”
When our Correspondent who planned to attend the venue for the meeting at the NNPC Towers, were informed by the security officials that neither the NNPC management nor the ministry informed them of any meeting.
“If there is any meeting here today we will be told and the details of those to attend will be sent to us in order to ease clearance, but nothing of such was given. So there is no meeting whatsoever happening here today,” a security officer at the entrance of the towers housing the NNPC and the petroleum ministry, said.
When contacted, Emmanuel Ojugbana, PENGASSAN public relations officer told correspondent that the strike had commenced, adding that the impact had not been severe because of the public holidays.
On whether the union was not aware of the planned meeting with the government, Ojugbana replied, “As far as I am concerned, there is no meeting with government. How can they send us a mail for a meeting that is meant to hold on Thursday morning by Wednesday evening? And mind you, they know that our executive members are not all in Abuja.
“Anyway, the strike will be fully felt once work resumes and as for the meeting, I can confirm to you that there is no ongoing meeting between us and government.”
He added that the Association has “responded to the invitation to tell government that it was impromptu. But as I speak to you now, we have not met to agree on when to meet with government.
“But let me also tell you that there should have not been any need for this meeting if we had met with the Minister of State for Petroleum on the 30th of June we had scheduled to meet. We felt bad that we were not told that the minister was not going to be around just only to be told when we arrived that day that he had traveled for official assignment.
“I think the honourable thing the minister was supposed to do was to inform us on time that he was not going to be around so that we could take another date. That is the reason we say that the government is insensitive to the challenges in the oil and gas sector,” Ojugbana said via telephone chat.
The union is demanding among other things that the Federal Government clear backlog of cash call arrears dating back to 2014, which are said had greatly hampered the ability of the joint venture partners with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to discharge their obligations both to the industry and their workers.
Other issues include the poor state of the country’s refineries and the massive waste of resources on turn around maintenance (TAM); continued importation of petroleum products; on-going industry reforms and NNPC restructuring as well as the politicisation of the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
Fillers gathered indicates that the union is insinuating that the IOCs may be compared to lay off a chunk of their Nigerian staff if the cash call arrears is not cleared.
In a bid to avert the planned strike by PENGASSAN, Federal Government had on Wednesday summoned a meeting with the oil workers for Thursday at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.
The meeting, according to Samuel Olowookere, deputy director, press and public relations, ministry of labour and employment, was to discuss the modalities for ending the lingering crisis in the petroleum sector.
Efforts to speak to Idang Alibi, spokesman of the ministry of petroleum failed as calls put across to his phone line failed to connect.