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DSS meets Ngige, Oil workers, others over nationwide strike

Department of State Security (DSS) will today, Monday meet with Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment and the leadership of Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigerian (PENGASSAN) with the view to avert the planned nationwide strike declared by the oil workers.

Also expected at the meeting scheduled to hold behind closed door, are Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu and management team of Neconde Energy Services Ltd.

Similar meeting held on Sunday in Abuja, to pacify the oil workers to shelve the industrial action, was deadlocked as the parties failed to reach compromise.

One of the members of the PENGASSAN National Executive Council who gave the update on Monday morning confirmed the meeting slated for 11am at the DSS headquarters, Abuja.

While reposnding to question on the purported agreement reached with the Association as alluded to by Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour & Employment, the NEC member who denied the report, argued that there was no agreement signed by the parties, since Federal Government could not prevail on Necorde Energy to reinstate the sacked oil workers.

Confirming the position of the Association, Lumumba Okugbawa, PENGASSAN General Secretary said: “We refer to the NEC meeting of October 13th 2017 held at Uyo culminating to the 7-day ultimatum given to the Federal Government which expires on Sunday midnight December 17th, 2018.

“As the drivers of the directive, the Zonal Executive Councils met and directed on the line of action including monitoring and sanctioning of defauters.

“As a follow up we wish to reiterate the Association’s position as follows: Withdrawal of services starting from Monday 18th December 2017 at 12.01am.

“Further directives on the scope, progress or otherwise will be communicated to members through Zonal leadership.

“All members are advised to adhere strictly to the above. Branch Chairmen will be held responsible in the event of non-compliance by their branches,” Okugbawa said in the memo obtained by BusinessDay.

Recall that the Minister of Labour & Employment had in a statement issued through Samuel Olowookere, Deputy Director (Press) on Sunday, appealed to PENGASSAN to shelve its planned strike in the spirit of conciliation brokered between it and Neconde Energy Services Ltd.

He posited that: “with the conciliation by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment, the impending action by PENGASSAN stands effectively apprehended in line with the provisions of the relevant labour laws whose powers are invested in the Honourable Minister.

“By that agreement, Neconde will review the termination of the affected staff members with a view to making it conform with the relevant labour laws as regards disengement of staff. Neconde should also within three months restore the PEGASSAN unit in its establishment in the spirit of the freedom of association as enshrined in the ILO Convention as well as section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which deals on the same issue.

“It was further agreed that labour issues related with other oil and gas companies- CISCON and others were to be taken in the second week of January 2018. On the other hand, PENGASSAN is to honour its own side of the bargain, report to its Central Working Committee with a viewing to shelving the strike.

“We therefore wish to appeal to PENGASSAN to reconsider its decision, respect the agreement and call off the scheduled action in the overall interest of the nation, more so when adequate notice of strike was not given. This appeal has become imperative in order to save Nigerians from further hardship in this season of Christmas and the New year,” the Minister noted.

 

KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja

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