There are indications that oil workers in Nigeria have decided to postpone their planned strike till Monday, July 11, when negotiations are opened with the federal government.
The acting general secretary of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), Lumumba Okugbawa, had on Thursday morning denied knowledge of negotiations between any arm of the association and the government on any of their demands.
“It is not true there are on-going negotiations between PENGASSAN and government. Apart from the inconclusive negotiation on June 23, which was rescheduled to June 30, only to be put off indefinitely with no further appointment, we are not aware of any other negotiation with government,” Mr. Okugbawa said.
Frowning at the government’s nature of causing confusion with negotiations only whenever a strike notice is issued, he said:
“If government was sincere, why would it always wait till after the strike had already started before coming out in the media to talk about non-existing negotiations?”
Okugbawa also said the office of the Federal Ministry of Labour had sent an email to the leadership of PENGASSAN late on Wednesday inviting them to a meeting scheduled for Thursday (today) when the strike was planned to commence, only to later resend another mail rescheduling the meeting for Friday, saying the previous schedule was not convenient, in view of the extended public holiday.
However, he said the association had since replied the government that the Friday schedule was equally not convenient, as it could not get all its top executives from across the country where they were deployed to monitor the beginning of the strike.
“In any case, the decision to embark on the strike was taken by the National Executive Council of the Association. It is not possible to stop the commencement of the strike now for a meeting with government on Friday. As far as PENGASSAN is concerned, the strike has commenced as planned. The strike can only be suspended or called off by no other arm, but NEC. For now getting all its members to return for a meeting is going to be difficult,” he said.
Premium Times gathered that although he did not confirm any new date the association would find convenient, Mr. Okugbawa said it would not be earlier than next Tuesday.
Early next week, the federal government will be represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the Minister of State, Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu in a meeting with the leadership of PENGASSAN at the NNPC Towers in Abuja to find a way to resolve their demands.