By Sylvester Idowu
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN), and the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have threatened to disrupt oil and gas operations across the country by Sunday, August 16, if the federal government fails to pay their salaries by today (Friday).
The protesting senior oil workers, who commenced the peaceful protests on Wednesday, gathered at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun, Delta state, yesterday in continuation of their three-day warning strike.
The protesters, clad in red attires, bore placards with inscriptions such as “No To Forceful Enrollment into IPPIS;” Release Our Salaries Now or No Dialogue;” and “We Are Not Against IPPIS but Create Another Platform That Addresses Our Peculiarities,” amongst others.
Addressing the members, Vice Chairman of the Warri Zonal Council of PENGASSAN and Secretary of Regulators Forum, Prince Audu Oshiokhamele warned that if their salaries are not released by today then all oil operations will be shut down by midnight of Sunday.
“I want to assure you, our union members, that if our salaries are not released before Friday (today), by 12 midnight, on Sunday we will shut down the whole nation. What we are just doing now is a warning protest, but by Sunday, the music will change,” he warned.
Oshiokhamele, who was in company of PTI branch Chairman of PENGASSAN, Mr. James Esiomor, and the Chairman of PTI branch of NUPENG, Mr. Ejokirhie Jahpurpose expressed surprise that the Federal Ministry of Finance claimed ignorance of non-payment of their salaries in the last three months, but are now making efforts to placate the Union.
“We are surprised that the Ministry of Finance, on Wednesday, denied that they are not aware that our salaries have been stopped, while they are making every effort to see how they can placate the
They can’t placate us until our salaries are paid,” he said.
The Warri Zonal Council Vice Chairman of PENGASSAN noted that the only solution to their threat is for the federal government to pay the salaries of the protesting workers by today before they can return for negotiations on the IPPIS issue.
Oshiokhamele, who argued that the unions were not against the implementation of the IPPIS policy, explained that they are clamouring for the creation of another platform that will take care of peculiarities in their operations which is different from that of core civil servants.