Nigeria nuclear agency workers begin strike over conditions of service

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu

Workers of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) on Monday commenced a three-day warning strike over alleged poor conditions of service, maladministration, impunity and abuse of office by its management.

The action came at the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum by the NNRA Branch of the Petroleum & Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) to the management to resolve urgent industrial matters bordering on their working conditions.

The chairman of the NNRA PENGASSAN Branch, Ifreke Udeme, said the matters included alleged dictatorial tendencies of the Director General of the agency, Lawrence Dim, insensitive and lackadaisical attitude of management, selective training of staff since 2013 and non-release of the 2015 staff promotion letters.

Other matters include victimization of union officials by denying them training and allowances for participating in the 2014 industrial action, over-invoicing and non-completion of contracts, lopsided recruitment of staff without due process as well as the non-implementation of the joint consultative Council agreement on staff welfare.

Mr. Udeme told the protesting workers in Abuja that the workers had resolved to embark on the protest after the NNRA management failed to honour series of agreements reached on workers’ welfare issues and improved condition of service.

“There have been on-going discussions and agreements with management. But, we have observed that once such agreements were reached, management would take a different decision. A recent agreement by the Joint Consultative Council on staff allowances has not been implemented,” Mr. Udeme said.

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He accused the management of unilaterally cutting salaries and allowances without consultation, while resolutions bordering on welfare of staff are never given due attention.

“The union has spoken on several occasions about the dangers of staff going out to conduct inspection without protective gadgets against radiation. The union is also concerned that contracts are awarded, but the items are never supplied, while staff recruitments are conducted without due process in line with the relevant public service rules,” the union leader explained.

The management of the agency as presently constituted, he explained, need urgent administrative restructuring, reconstitution and repositioning by government to enable it achieve its goals.

When contacted for his reaction to the allegation, the embattled Director General, Lawrence Dim, said in a text message that he would only talk after the protest was over and the office was opened.

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