Oil and gas workers with the various agencies of the Ministry of Petroleum in the Republic of Nigeria are on a three-day strike in protest over the failure of the Federal Government to pay their salaries in the last three months.
The workers, under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), explained that they had stopped working, following the authorities’ insistence on compelling them to join the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The striking workers said the government had not done enough to convince them that the IPPIS was robust enough to handle the peculiarities of the environment they work, noting that it is wrong to lump them up with civil servants on the IPPIS platform.
Members of the union, who protested at the Abuja headquarters of the Ministry, were drawn from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF), Petroleum Trust Development Fund (PTDF), Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NNRA) and others.
National Public Relations Officer (PRO) of PENGASSAN, who is also the Rivers State Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Fortune Obi, told THISDAY that if after three days the demands of the protesters are not met, it would become a nationwide issue to be handled by the national body of the union.
There was no immediate response from the government although the union said almost all avenues for negotiation had been explored without success.
President Muhammadu Buhari, during the presentation of 2020 budget proposal to the joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja, said all fyederal Government workers not captured on the IPPIS platform by October 31, 2019, would not be paid their monthly salaries.
But the PENGASSAN’s spokesman stated that apart from the fact that the IPPIS platform was not secure, it had failed to consider the difference between regular civil servants and oil workers.
He said: “It’s a three-day warning strike by members in the government regulatory agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum, basically because of their inclusion in the IPPIS system, which we have rejected abinitio due to the various challenges we have had with it and the associated inefficiencies.”