Despite reports that the government had commenced talks with their leaders, Nigerian oil workers are going ahead with their planned strike today, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) has said.
The acting general secretary of PENGASSAN, Lumumba Okugbawa, told Premium Times this morning that they were not aware of any 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. He said reports of negotiations with the oil workers was part of the government’s characteristic way of causing confusion whenever a strike notice is issued.
“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?” he asked. Mr. Okugbawa said 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.
He said the ministry later sent a text message to reschedule the meeting for Friday, saying the previous schedule was not convenient, in view of the extended public holiday.
“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 foing to be difficult,” he said. Although he did not confirm any new date the association would find convenient, Mr. Okugbawa said it would not be earlier than next Tuesday.