The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria(PENGASSAN) has confirmed a meeting between some of its members and the Federal Government tomorrow, Monday.
The union had resolved to continue its strike indefinitely, unless the government takes necessary steps to savage the collapsing oil sector. However, there seems to be a turn of events, as there are expectations that the meeting scheduled for tomorrow would end positively.
A meeting had been held by the association yesterday, Saturday, in preparation for the talks on Monday. While speaking yesterday, the chairman of PENGASSAN Lagos branch, Abel Agarin said the strike is not targeted at agitating for salary increment but the need for government to settle its cash calls debts.
Agarin said: “As far as we are concerned, there is no talk ongoing. I don’t know why the Federal Government said they are talking with us. We only have a proposed meeting for Monday. So, the strike is still very much ongoing.
“We are not talking about salaries. All we are saying is that the Federal Government should live up to its responsibilities on the cash calls. The increasing debt on the cash calls is our problem, because this funding has not been forthcoming for the past five to six years running.
“The non-payment of the cash calls is affecting the industry seriously, to the extent that our members are loosing jobs. The IOCs and the service sector are not undertaking new investments. No investment in new projects, as we speak, and the existing ones are being divested. So, our people are loosing jobs. As at today, Transocean is no longer in this country. Saipem has moved out because there is nothing going on.”
Agarin also complained about the delay in the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). He said;
Agarin also bemoaned the delay in passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). “This is supposed to aid the industry, but it has been laid to rest; nobody is talking about it. We are not clamouring for salary increase. There has been no increment of salary in the oil sector in the last three years. We are just there, and even now companies are making moves to reduce our salaries. Where is that done? The economy is not friendly.
“If we fail to do this, now, the nation will end up having nothing, just like cocoa ended up, groundnut pyramids in the North, rubber and timber in Mid-West ended up. So, we cannot fold our hands. This is the only industry in the country, today, where we earn our revenue.
“As far as we are concerned, petroleum resources are still the mainstay of this economy. We might be talking about diversification. There is no gainsaying the fact that much of our national earning still comes from oil and gas, and we must not allow that to collapse suddenly.”