Major oil workers’ unions, the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have put off their proposed strike over the Federal Government’s plan to put on sale the country’s four refineries.
The indefinite strike was to have started this week and would have paralyzed the entire oil and gas sector.
But the decision to put off the planned strike was informed by government’s resolve to back down on the planned sale of the refineries following an outrage against the move by the unions.
With the resolve to dialogue with the Federal Government over the matter rather than totally paralyzing the oil and gas sector with an indefinite strike, the Federal Government has agreed to now work with the unions to formulate workable business models and strategies for the refineries instead of outright sale.
And in line with the new thinking, the Turn Around Maintenance (TMA) which is already in process by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources would be continued.
The agreement to this effect was arrived at on Tuesday night after a meeting between the unions and the Federal Government. The meeting was organized by the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, in Abuja.
Present at the meeting were the Petroleum Resources Minister, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; NUPENG President, Mr. Igwe Achese; PENGASSAN President, Mr. Babatunde Ogun; Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries Labour and Petroleum Resources, Dr. Clement Illoh and Mr. Danladi Kefasi as well as the national executive members of the two unions.
Speaking before the meeting which held behind closed doors began, Wogu had said: “We want to find a common ground to resolve the problems in the oil and gas sector, you all know the issues at stake but we would ensure that we reach a compromise to avert any strike in the sector.”
Also speaking before the commencement of the meeting, Alison-Madueke noted that the meeting was ‘absolutely critical’ on topical issues raised in the last few days.
The agreement reached at the end of the meeting was jointly signed by the Alison-Madueke, NUPENG and PENGASSAN Presidents, Igwe Achese and Babatunde Ogun as well as the General Secretaries of the two unions.
The agreement which was read out by Wogu said: “Trade unions in the oil and gas sector of the economy namely NUPENG and PENGASSAN have agreed with the federal government to engage in social dialogue to develop viable and workable business models for the nation’s refineries.
“Based on the above understanding, the trade unions in the oil and gas sector shall not embark on any form of industrial actions over the subject matter.”