Nigerian oil workers under the umbrella body of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, have postponed their proposed strike until Monday when negotiations will be opened with the federal government.
Leaders of the oil workers union say the action is being put on hold until they are able to meet with the government delegation to table their grievances.
That meeting was originally scheduled for Thursday but was moved to Monday because of the three day public holiday this week to celebrate Eid El Fitri.
The Ministers of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Petroleum Resources counterpart, Ibe Kachikwu, will represent the federal government at the meeting which is expected to hold at the NNPC Towers in Abuja.
The unions had earlier on Wednesday declared that it would halt the supply of premium motor spirit, PMS, popularly called petrol, across the country from Thursday.
It also threatened to ground activities at the NNPC, all PMS depots, refineries and International Oil Companies, IOCs, where it had members.
The public relations officer of PENGASSAN, Emmanuel Ojugbana, said the union was not happy at government’s seeming inability to address the lingering industry issues despite the notice given by the union.
“The strike will hold,” he said, “It is going to be a total shutdown and, of course, will cause fuel scarcity. Our members at the depots have all shut down and nothing will work once we start the strike in full; you will see.”
Among the issues PENGASSAN wants government to sort out is the settlement of cash call indebtedness by the federal government to the IOCs, which has grown to about $7 billion.
Ojugbana said the huge debt had made it impossible for some of the IOCs to pay the salaries of their workers, and many had told PENGASSAN that the option before them was to sack their Nigerian employees.
“We are tired of the level of redundancy in the sector. In fact, our major work in the last two to three months has been to fight against redundancy from one company to the other. And the cause of this is that the government is not keeping to its part of the joint venture funding and cash call obligations with the IOCs,” he said.