The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, has directed its members nationwide to withdraw their services, signaling the commencement of an indefinite strike over disputed irregularities in the Federal Government-imposed centralized payroll system, IPPIS.
The association, affiliated to the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has also hinged the mass industrial action on the retrenchment of its workers by multinational oil corporation Baker Hughes.
The company had laid off 64 workers in a breach of an agreement with the union.
PENGASSAN general secretary Lumumba Okugbawa, in a letter issued late Sunday, said having reached an impasse with government authorities upon expiration of its 7-day ultimatum, nationwide formations of the association were directed to withdraw their services, effective from midnight November 8.
The letter titled; Breach in agreement on IPPIS implementation and redundancy in Baker Hughes’ read: “We refer to the above letter dated November 2nd, 2020 where we gave 7-Days ultimatum and further extension to the relevant government agencies and institutions. Regrettably and upon expiration of the ultimatum, nothing concrete has been done with regards to the outstanding issues as enumerated in the letter.
“In view of the above and with expiration of the ultimatum and subsequent extension, you are hereby advised to withdraw your services effective 12 midnight on Sunday, November 8th, 2020,” the letter said.
The indefinite strike is expected to paralyze oil and gas facilities and in no small measure disrupt the distribution of petroleum products across the country.
The association had kicked against the spontaneous layoff of its members by Baker Hughes, despite entreaties made to the servicing company domiciled in Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Oil workers had also picketed the office of the company to express their grievances.
The union also condemned the hefty deduction in the salaries of its members which they believe was engineered by the IPPIS.
“We are concerned with the ways our members in some government agencies are being treated with respect to IPPIS,” PENGASSAN National Industrial Officer Kelechi Ugwulor told the News Agency of Nigeria.
“In the month of September, our members in NNRA had huge sums of money deducted from their salaries, and we have decided that enough is enough,” he added.
By Abel Ejikeme