Fresh fuel crisis looms as PENGASSAN threatens nationwide strike

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By Bimbola Oyesola

another round of fuel crisis may be in the offing as Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), yesterday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government, which will culminate in the shutting down of all oil and gas installations nationwide from December 18.

According to the union, the shut down will include disruptions to fuel supply and distribution across the country as a result of the unfair labour practices and seemly untameable posture of some indigenous oil and gas companies and marginal field operators by relevant agencies of government. The fresh threat comes as the Federal Government yesterday took far reaching measures to halt the current fuel scarcity across the country.

The association recalls that its communique issued at the end of the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of October 13, 2017 held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, noted as one of the resolutions thereof, the condemnation of indigenous oil and gas companies and marginal field operators, concerning their anti-labour posture and practices including the termination of the employment of any worker who has indicated willingness to belong to the union.

“Those who are threatened and compelled to disown the union are then treated as slave workers within their own country,” the union stated, adding that, “the case of Neconde Energy Ltd (of Nestoil Group of Companies) is particularly worrisome as the issue of dignity in labour and infringement on workers’ rights to freedom of association is foreign to them leading to dehumanisation and mass sack of workers that joined the union in total disregard to rule of engagement and the laws of the land. The actions of companies such as Neconde in mass sack of Nigerian workers contribute in no small measure to the unending militancy in the Niger Delta.

“This company has not only conducted itself as being above the provisions of extant laws and regulations guiding the operations of oil and gas companies in Nigeria, but has also severally boasted that no government agency can call it to order.

“It was therefore no surprise that Neconde has defied multiple interventions from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the top management of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) for the company to toe the path of law and order and comply with Nigerian labour laws.

“The company is apparently bolstered by the fact that it has continued, without any sanctions from government regulatory authorities, to flagrantly breach the provisions of the Personal Income Tax Amendment Act (PITA) and Pension Reform Act (PRA) by not remitting deducted income taxes and pension contributions to the Lagos and Delta states’ boards of internal revenue and authorised Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) respectively.

The owners and management of Neconde therefore believe that they are above the laws and government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

PENGASSSAN said it decided to embark on the industrial action having explored all options without getting the necessary understanding, and an apparent failure of relevant authorities of government to call these recalcitrant organisations to order, especially Neconde.

“PENGASSAN gives the Federal Government and its relevant agencies seven days’ notice to embark on nationwide strike effective December 18, 2017 if it fails to direct the management of  Neconde and other companies to recall our sacked members  as the only option to address this injustice and lawlessness,” the union threatened.

It, however, appealed to all Nigerians to show understanding and to use this window to stockpile adequate quantity of premium motor spirit (PMS) and other petroleum products that will last them during the upcoming festive period as the strike would be indefinite.

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