Oil workers end strike as government pledges to check unfair labour practices

fuel queue
FILE PHOTO: Fuel queue

A stakeholders meeting was convened to resolve pending issues.

The National Union of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, have ended their three-day nationwide warning strike with a resolve to work towards promoting industrial harmony in the industry.

At a stakeholders’ meeting held at NNPC Towers, Abuja, on Wednesday, shortly before the three-day warning strike ended, leaders of the two unions assured Nigerians that with the new understanding among key stakeholders of the issues that informed the strike they would work to avoid crisis in future.

The meeting jointly convened by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and Labour and Productivity counterpart, Emeka Wogu, was attended by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Andrew Yakubu; the acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Godwin Onwughalu; and his colleague from the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, O.Iloh.

Also in attendance were the National President of PENGASSAN, Babatunde Ogun; NUPENG President, Achese Igwe; National Deputy President, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Ayoola Sadiq, as well as the representative of the international oil companies (IOCs) under the aegis Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) arm of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI).

A 12-point communiqué issued at the end of the meeting assured that government was addressing the concern of the union about insecurity and pipeline vandalism/oil theft, while the issue of bad roads was also receiving attention from the relevant agencies.

Government declared that it was committed to engaging the two unions, all relevant agencies and security institutions on the progress made to guarantee security of oil pipelines and other facilities while other stakeholders at the meeting noted the current efforts by a special committee to exhaustively review the problem towards providing lasting solutions.

The meeting noted that roads across the country, currently being rehabilitated under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, would continue to be made better.

To provide alternative means of transport, the meeting agreed that the current rehabilitation of the railway lines would be sustained to complement the road network in the country.

On the question of unfair labour practices, it was resolved that the unions should submit a list of such practices to a 13-man committee headed by Mr. Onwughalu, which would review such cases jointly with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity.

All other transition issues would be referred to a committee headed by the Group Managing Director of NNPC as mandated by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation for resolutions within two weeks.

On the alleged breaches of the guidelines on contract staffing and outsourcing in the industry, the meeting urged the relevant trade Unions to identify specific cases on such breaches to the 13–man Committee headed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

The meeting was unanimous in its resolve that unionization by workers is an inalienable right established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Standards of the International Labour Organization, which cannot be infringed upon.

Other issues resolved during the meeting include those relating to Nomenclature /Harmonization, Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), Pensions, as well as the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) crisis, with FIRS agreeing to pay NARTO members all verified claims within 14-days from July 3, 2013.

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