The Federal Government of Nigeria has pleaded with oil workers to shelve their planned strike over the alleged sacking of 3,000 of its members by oil companies.
The appeal was made by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, on Friday, when speaking with newsmen in Abuja.
Oil workers under the aegis of the National Union of Petroleum and National Gas (NUPENG), and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), had on October 26, issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government.
The unions had called on the federal government to intervene on the matter by putting a stop to the sacking of its members.
Speaking on behalf of the government on the matter, Ngige said the ministry, earlier in the year, had several meetings with the employers, leadership of the unions and employees in which an agreement was reached.
His words: “We all had an agreement and the agreement was that instead of retrenchment, they should focus on reducing some of their top most positions of the establishments.
“We also agreed that some allowances should be shielded up, while some offices of directors and top management staff should be pegged.
“They all agreed and that is what they have been doing, we also formed a kind of forum between the employers, employees and unions with my ministry.
“The forum is supposed to be meeting to fashion out oil and gas labour relations which will guide whatever is happening there.
“I do not know if NUPGENG is dissatisfied with what is coming out from that forum.’’
The minister recalled that two months ago “NUPGENG and PENGASSAN had submitted petitions against the oil and gas companies, and there were marathon meetings held with the employers.”
According to Ngige, the ministry had then convened series of meetings where issues were looked into on companies’ basis to understand why they should not retrench.
The minister stated that he had then directed the companies to recall their retrenched workers as the right procedures and due process as stipulated in Section 20 of the Redundancy Law was not followed.
“I will find out why NUPGENG is issuing the 21-day ultimatum and also call for a meeting to look at the developing issues.
“If there are particular companies that have deviated from the agreement we have reached, we will call those companies and ask them to comply,’’ the minister said.