Fuel Scarcity: Why PENGASSAN suspended strike

FILE PHOTO: Fuel queue in Abuja

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, on Monday announced the suspension of its planned nationwide strike after Neconde Energy Limited, an indigenous oil company, agreed to recall a disengaged staff member of the union.

The National President of PENGASSAN, Francis Johnson, who announced the suspension of the strike, said it was done in the spirit of the forthcoming yuletide season.

“In the spirit of the yuletide, on behalf of the National Executive Council, NEC, of PENGASSAN, the Central Working Committee, CWC, hereby suspends the nationwide strike with immediate effect and all members are to resume normal duties immediately,” Mr. Johnson said late on Monday.

Neconde had on October 5 terminated the appointment of Babatunde Animashaun, a Gas Petroleum Engineer and Chairman of the oil company’s Chapter of PENGASSAN.

Apart from Mr. Animashaun’s sack, the management of the company was said to have engaged in activities the oil workers said were aimed at stifling unionism in Neconde.

Despite protests by the national secretariat of the union over the matter, the company refused to rescind its decision on Mr. Animashaun.

Initially, the association issued a 72-hour ultimatum to government to call the company to order over allegations of anti-workers practices against some of its members, including Mr. Animashaun.

At the expiration of the ultimatum, another seven-day notice was issued, which resulted in the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, offering to broker a truce between PENGASSAN and the company.

But the minister’s intervention did not yield fruits, following which the association declared a formal strike action to commence after 23.59 hours on Monday.

However, before the meeting of its Central Working Committee to take a final decision on the strike, PENGASSAN was inundated with meetings with various government agencies, including the Minister of Labour and Employment and the State Security Service, SSS.

During last week’s meeting with the labour minister, Chris Ngige, PENGASSAN alleged anti-union posturing by some indigenous companies and marginal field operators, including Neconde Energy, accusing them of indiscriminate transfer of employees.

At the end of the engagement with both PENGASSAN and Neconde management, the oil firm agreed to recall the sacked union leader and allow its employees to belong to unions of their choice.

Besides, the meeting also agreed that all resolutions reached would be subject to reviews after three months, to determine level of adherence by Neconde Energy.

In the same vein, the meeting also agreed to address alleged anti-union posture of other indigenous and multi-national oil companies, particularly their penchant to resort to abuse of court processes to stall the peaceful resolution of issues affecting workers’ interests.

The accused companies include Specialty Drilling Fluid, SDF; CETCO, Century Energy, Oil Data Services, Frontier Oil, Universal Energy, Fugro Oil and Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited.

Announcing the suspension of the planned industrial action on Monday, Mr. Johnson said issues of anti-union posture of the companies must be addressed, by ensuring they abide by the country’s constitution, extant Labour laws and International Labour Organisation conventions by the third week of 2018, to avert a full blown industrial crisis.

The announcement by PENGASSAN to proceed on strike is believed to have worsened the fuel scarcity across the country as marketers hoarded the product in anticipation of the strike and petrol users resorted to panic buying.

The fuel scarcity across the country has resulted in price increase by filling stations in some states.


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