Hours after Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) embarked on industrial action, queues were said to be gradually returning to filling stations as anxious motorists have started storing the content in fear of scarcity.
The sparking fears of fuel scarcity, The Guild learnt, was that the government slow response to proffer solution to the challenges raised by the striking oil workers.
As gathered, the strike commenced on Monday after with the workers alleging that the Federal Governmenthad not address placed before it.
The union added that the industrial action followed its seven-day ultimatum issued last week to the apex government to implement the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) by the government regarding the payment of salaries.
PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo, who confirmed the union’s position to newsmen on Monday, accused the government of negligence in the manner it was handling the issues.
Osifo added that the response of the government led the oil workers to embark on industrial action, just as he disclosed that the union made several attempts to resolve issues raised as a result of the shortfall in workers’ salaries and arrears.
“Today, PENGASSAN has declared a strike. Today our members are sitting at home and we will continually watch the situation and if we need to rev it up, we will definitely rev it up.”
While arguing that the union does not have preference for any tool used by the government to pay salaries, he noted that what was important was for the government to pay workers’ remuneration without any shortfall.
Osifo decried that the arrears and allowances of some union members at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), were ceased sometimes in the year.
He explained that the conversation on the issue of IPPIS started several years ago and PENGASSAN engaged relevant government agencies on how the platform should be structured to take cognisance of workers’ pay in the oil and gas sector.
“We agreed with the government that we should set up a technical committee that will look into these issues one after the other, to be sure that our specific earning in the oil and gas industry is taken care of. At the end of the day, the committee was set up but the government was not committed to it, we fixed a date for a meeting and when our members get there, we will wait from morning till night, and nothing was done.
“For us in PENGASSAN, we don’t specifically mind the tool that the government will use in paying our salaries, but what we are saying is that any tool that you want to use in paying our salaries must not short-change our members. Today, they have forcefully enrolled our members in NNRA without data capturing and without biometrics.
“In NNRA today, they paid them the last two months salary via IPPIS and it will shock you to note that most of our members got at least 30 per cent reduction in their pay and a lot of allowances that they earn were nor paid as well”, the union president added.