• Monday, June 17, 2024
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BusinessDay

PENGASSAN begins withdrawal from oil stations

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The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) said on Thursday it had begun a gradual withdrawal of workers from the offshore loading bays and flow stations’ in the oil and gas industry.

This comes as a meeting called for Thursday, among Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment; Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum and the leadership of PENGASSAN, to discuss concerns raised by labour and other lingering issues in the petroleum sector, has been put off till Monday, at the instance of the union because of the Eid el Fitri  holiday declared by the Federal Government to end the Ramadan fast.

Unless there is some intervention to stop a full blast nationwide strike, it is likely to have some telling effect on the economy. The country just resumed from a three-day holiday which significantly slowed down economic and productive activities. The likelihood of petroleum products scarcity from the strike means another lull in business and commercial ventures in an economy that is petroleum products dependent, due to power supply challenges.

“The strike has commenced despite the Eid-el Filtri public holiday declared by the Federal Governmen. Our members, especially those in offices and downstream sector will join tomorrow (today) as they resume from the Eid el Fitri holiday,” Emmanuel Ojugbana, spokesperson of PENGASSAN, said in a statement made available to BusinessDay yesterday.

“The union debunked media reports that it had shelved the strike, saying “there is no iota of truth in the report that the strike has been called off or suspended. As we are speaking, some of our members that are in the offshore have been withdrawn, while others who are on critical equipment have commenced gradual shutting down of such equipment before their final disengagement.”

Ojugbana restated that the strike was to press home PENGASSAN’s demands for government’s attention to some critical challenges impacting the survival of the nation’s oil and gas industry.

Some of the challenges, according to the senior oil workers’ union, include lingering irregular Joint Venture funding and Cash Call payment arrears, lack of a clear cut direction on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), forceful co-option of government agencies in the industry into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), and a spate of redundancy and retrenchment in the oil and gas industry.   

PENGASSAN had in a statement on Monday, signed by Lumumba Okugbawa, its general secretary, directed members nationwide to withdraw from oil stations beginning midnight of Thursday, July 7.

The union also directed the leadership in its four zones of operations: Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna, to sensitise  members  towards the strike.  It said the strike would affect all sub-sectors of the oil and gas industry, which include the upstream, the midstream and the downstream sectors.

Okugbawa in the statement, had accused officials of government of frustrating “several efforts to engage the government to forestall the strike,” which is to protest lingering challenges in the sector earlier listed.

“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 promise to creation and retention of jobs,” Okugbawa said.

JOSHUA BASSEY