FUEL SCARCITY LOOMS AS PENGASSAN ORDERS WORKERS TO DOWN TOOLS FROM THURSDAY

Another round of fuel scarcity may hit the country this week as Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has ordered its members to leave their duty posts in all oil installations and offices throughout Nigeria from Thursday, July 7, 2016.
The association has also ordered its four zones, which include Lagos Zone, Port Harcourt Zone, Warri Zone and Kaduna Zone to commence sensitisation of their members with details of the planned action from yesterday.
The strike, according to a statement signed by the PENGASSAN Acting General Secretary, Lumumba Okugbawa, will affect all sub-sectors of the oil and gas industry, including the upstream, the midstream and the downstream sectors.
In a memo dated July 4, 2016 and addressed to all zonal chairmen, secretaries, all branch chairmen and secretaries, the senior staff association directed its members to embark on gradual withdrawal of services from their various offices, sites and production facilities from July 7.
The memo, which was signed by the Acting General Secretary of PENGASSAN cited the inability of the Federal Government to honour agreements contained in a May 12, 2016 Communiqué as the reason for calling for the strike.
The senior staff trade union listed some of the issues to include lingering irregular Joint Venture funding and Cash Call payment arrears, lack of a clear cut direction on the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), forceful co-option of government agencies in the industry into the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS), and spate of redundancy and retrenchment in the industry.
The association said that several efforts to engage the Buhari administration to forestall the strike were frustrated by its agencies.
PENGASSAN stated: “Sequel to the above subject, the association tried to engage the Federal Government on May 24, 2016, but that was inconclusive. The engagement was later fixed for June 23, 2016, which did not take place and again for June 30, 2016, which was unceremoniously cancelled with no date given.
“We see this as a deliberate attempt by the government to frustrate the discussion of the myriad of issues raised in the communiqué, which are critical to the survival of the oil and gas industry in the country.
“Among the burning issues raised is that of the JV funding/cash call arrears, which has stalled new investments and the creation of jobs in the industry and which has consequently brought about massive job losses in the sector. We have equally noted with great dismay that our tertiary institutions keep churning out graduates with no or very limited job placement opportunities for them. Even for those that are fortunate to have jobs it has been tug of war getting their salaries paid as at and when due and are faced with redundancies on a regular basis also, especially in the service sector.KACHIKWU
“We cannot fold our hands and watch this gradual collapse of our strategic oil and gas industry and its attendant consequences on the nation’s economy, which is a sharp contrast to the present government’s avowed promise of creation and retention of jobs.”
Speaking on the impending fuel crisis, the National Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Ojugbana, said that all aspects of the oil and gas operations will be affected as there will be a total shut down of the industry. “There won’t be any activities by our members. All aspects, including loading of petroleum products, flow stations and jetties will be shut down in this strike until the government addresses our concerns that are impacting the industry negatively.”
Recall that PENGASSAN, after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Calabar, Cross River State on May 12, 2016, issued a seven-day ultimatum with effect from May 16, 2016, for the government to engage the association on the myriad of challenges confronting the nation’s oil and gas industry. After the expiration of the ultimatum, it equally issued another seven-day ultimatum on June 19, 2016.