NUPENG, PENGASSAN suspend nationwide strike
Nigerians are heaving a sigh of relief as the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), yesterday, cancelled its planned nationwide strike, scheduled to begin today. The decision to suspend the strike, according to Mr Babatunde Ogun, President, PENGASSAN, is to allow for talks with officials of the ministries of Petroleum and Labour over the issue, scheduled to hold January 7, 2013.
NUPENG, on the other hand, according to its Secretary General, Mr.Elijah Okougbo, is yet to schedule a date for discussions with government officials, but will not commence the strike action until it meets with officials of the Federal Government over the issue. Ogun further stated that if the government does not back down, PENGASSAN may embark on the strike action which will commence by halting the loading of crude cargoes and a gradual shutdown of oil and gas production.
Both unions had, on December 17, threatened to embark on the strike over Federal Government's decision to privatise the countries' refineries. Mr. Eddy Ossai, Deputy President, NUPENG, had stated that the unions would immediately convey to the congress of all the subsidiaries to be prepared for the showdown, if their demand to retract the statement and the decision to sell the refineries were not met.
He said: 'We shall tell the government that NUPENG and PENGASSAN have the capacity to mobilise, and by the first week of January, if the government does not make a u-turn on the sales of the refineries, we shall not hesitate to start the strike.'