The meeting between representatives of the Federal Government and oil workers in Abuja on Monday was inconclusive as both groups agreed to continue deliberations today (Tuesday).
As a result, the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by members of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria since Thursday is still in force.
Although some resolutions were reached by both groups at the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, told journalists that there was an outstanding matter that was not settled and this was due to the absence of the international oil companies at the meeting.
Apart from Ngige, the meeting was also attended by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang; officials from the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation; leaders of PENGASSAN as well as their counterparts in the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers.
Explaining why the meeting would have to continue on Tuesday, Ngige said, “We only have one matter outstanding and that matter will be addressed tomorrow because the IOCs were not here.”
The minister stated that there were allegations against the IOCs that many of them retrenched workers unfairly without following stipulated labour rules.
He said, “There are allegations of unfair labour practices like laying people off without going through the normal redundancy clauses, and even firing people who are official members of unions. We felt it is not very just, people cannot be slaves because they are working.
“So, that meeting will be held in my office tomorrow (Tuesday) and an amicable solution will be found. Tomorrow (Tuesday), we also expect PENGASSAN to hold their NEC meeting, and thereafter tell Nigerians what they think.”
Ngige stated that the government provided PENGASSAN with very useful information on issues that needed clarification.
Some of the issues, he said, included the matter of joint venture cash calls; appointments in selected agencies under the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and the Petroleum Industry Bill.
He said, “On the state of the nation, we briefed them because they are Nigerians. They complained that their members were being killed and the Department of State Security addressed the issue and they were quite satisfied.
“We also looked at the issue of corruption and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation briefed us on what is being done. On the PIB, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Ita Enang, gave us a proper elucidation on where the bill stands today and everybody was satisfied. We fashioned out a road map on how to get the bill alive to address the burning issues in the oil and gas industry.”
Kachikwu, who confirmed that the meeting would be concluded on Tuesday, noted that participants agreed that roads leading to refineries and fuel depots should be fixed.
He said, “In terms of construction of the roads leading to the refineries, we will take up the issue with the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing. Someone was here to represent our colleague, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who wasn’t around, and the representative gave a report.
“We have looked at it and felt that at some point, we will sit down with the NNPC and Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to do some form of joint funding to provide critical infrastructure leading to refineries and depots.”
When asked if the strike had been called off, the President of PENGASSAN, Mr. Olabode Johnson, said the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting would determine that.
He said, “For us, we first want to appreciate the President for the high delegation here. We had a robust discussion and I know that the NEC members who gave the go ahead for this strike are on their way to Abuja.
“After the meeting tomorrow, we are going to sit together and do the needful. If we are satisfied with the engagement, the sincerity and openness, definitely, we will address the members of the press.”