By Joan Nwagwu
The Federal Government says it will enforce compliance by the oil companies with agreement reached with the unions in the oil and gas industry.
The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Sen. Chris Ngige gave the assurance at a reconciliatory stakeholders meeting with officials of labour unions in the sector on Wednesday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the leaderships of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) were in attendance.
Others are the concerned Nigeria National Petroleum Co-operation (NNPC), National Salaries and Wages Commission, and the oil and Servicing companies, among others.
Ngige said the meeting was to provide lasting solution to the lingering industrial crisis in the sector.
“A lot of agreements have been reached but not complied with by the IOCs and the LOCs as petitioned by the unions.
“It is even more painful and regretful that NNPC has also not lived up to their agreements.
“So, the essence of the meeting is for us as re-conciliators stop the pending strike by NUPENG and PENGASSAN,’’ he said.
Ngige also said the meeting was an intervention move to agree on timelines for the effective implementation of these agreements.
“I also want to appeal to NUPENG to call off the strike so that we can discuss situation without duress,’’ he said.
Mr Olabode Johnson, President of PENGASSAN, however, decried the non-compliance of agreements reached earlier with oil companies.
“These oil companies have refused to respect the agreements reached between the Federal Government and the unions.
“So, for this meeting to be fruitful there must be some level of compliance because PENGASSAN has also issued an ultimatum, which was also put on hold at the instance of this meeting.
“If we are not fully satisfied at the end of this meeting then we have to go back and re-issue the ultimatum,’’ he said.
On his part, the President of NUPENG, Mr Igwe Achese, said about 300 workers had so far been retrenched by these oil companies.
Achese said several pleas made to avert these retrenchments by the oil companies fell on deaf ears.
“We had asked ourselves why our members should be sacked on daily basis without due consultation. How long must things continue like this.
“We have heard the government’s appeal to us to suspend the warning strike, the outcome of this meeting will make us to take a final decision on it,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the contentious issues borders on non-implementation of collective agreements, staff retrenchment, insecurity in the Niger Delta, deplorable state of roads leading to refineries among others.
NAN further reports that as at the time of filing this report, the meeting was ongoing.