The Petroleum Tanker Drivers arm of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) have shelved their planned strike.
The groups had threatened to go on strike over claims of diversion of the N621bn road fund provided by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and the government’s failure to increase the freight rate for transporting petrol.
But a communique issued by the (NNPC) on Thursday, noted that the planned industrial action has been stopped following a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja.
The NNPC gave updates about the state of the road “construction and rehabilitation projects under the road infrastructure tax credit scheme and assured the stakeholders (NUPENG, NARTO, and PTD) that the funding earmarked for the 21 critical roads will be applied for the intended purpose only”.
The NNPC in a series of tweets on its official handle also said the stakeholders will work together in monitoring the road construction.
“The stakeholders requested for completion of the ongoing discussion on the review of the freight rates to cover operational costs and highlighted the precarious situation that truck owners face in the light of current economic realities,” the communique added.
It said a committee has been set up to review the rates and that members of the group include PTD, NARTO and NUPENG, and other stakeholders. The committee is expected to make recommendations to the government
On the nationwide fuel scarcity, all parties during the meeting agreed to work to ensure “efficient distribution of petroleum products across the country”.
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) workers has declared its support for the imminent industrial action by the Petroleum Tanker Drivers branch of NUPENG and announced that it had started mobilising members of the union for the sudden strike.
NUPENG also claimed that its investigations revealed that officials of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing were currently diverting the N621bn provided by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited for the rehabilitation of 21 critical highways.
They disclosed this in a statement jointly signed on Sunday by the President, Williams Akporeha, and General Secretary, Olawale Afolabi, adding that agreements reached on the matter with the government and other stakeholders in two separate meetings were not upheld.
“ln as much as we understand the unfortunate situation the Transporters have found themselves, NUPENG, as a responsible and responsive Trade Union Organisation cannot afford to sit idle and watch her able-bodied members continued to be wasted away as sacrificial items as well as the wanton destruction of millions of public lives and properties, so as to manage the operational costs by transporters due to inadequate freight rates being paid to them.
“ln similar vein, you will all recall that at the end of the quarterly Branch Executive Council meeting of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers, held at PTD House, Emene, Enugu on the 25th of September, 2O2l, the Union issued a firm and decisive ultimatum on the deplorable state of the federal highways and the painful experiences of our members while carrying out their duties across the Country.
“The management team of NNPC under Mallam Mele Kyari immediately apprehended the situation then, to avert the situation of industrial action of the Union, by calling the leadership of the Union to two separate meetings on the 10th of October, 2O21 in Ibadan and 12th October, 2021 in Abuja.
“ln attendance at the 12th October were critical Stakeholders such as the FIRS, FRSC, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Nigeria Association of Road Transport Owners and NUPENG.
“These two meetings resulted into the signing of communique indicating the readiness and willingness of NNPC to finance the rehabilitation of identified 21 critical roads at an estimated sum of N621 Billion through Road infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme.
“On the basis of this communique, the Union suspended the intended industrial action, but we were very clear in our statement, that should the spirit and letter of the agreement not fully implemented with a focus on those jointly identified critical roads or attempt is made to divert the funds, the Union will not give further warning to resume the intended actions,” the statement read in part.
NUPENG added that “The officials of the Ministry of Works and Housing are going around showing pictures of roads done in June and August 2021 to justify payment made from the N621bn which was approved in October 2021 for the identified 21 critical roads.
“We have our facts and figures, and we shall not be cowed into allowing the N621bn to go the same way other budgeted funds have gone.”
The union demanded the immediate halt to the further release of the fund until a competent monitoring and validation team comprising all stakeholders that signed the communique was formed.
Although the works ministry in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Boade Akinola, stated that the FMWH was committed to making sure that all the roads financed under the NNPC scheme were completed and delivered as scheduled, NUPENG demanded that the pre-award pictures of the 21 identified roads be taken, which would be compared with pictures of post repairs/reconstruction.
“The N621bn was approved because of our demand and struggle, therefore, we owe our members and the general public the responsibility to ensure that every kobo of the approved fund is accounted for,” NUPENG stated.
It added, “Taxpayers’ money must be accounted for. We demand an immediate review of transport freight rates to reflect the operational realities of the petroleum distribution value chain.
“For these critical issues, we have the mandate of the National Executive Council of the union to commence immediate mobilisation of all our members for resumption of our earlier suspended action.”
“We write to convey to the public and all relevant government agencies the resolution of the Special National Delegates Conference to issue a 14-day notice of a nationwide industrial action if some legitimate welfare and membership related issues that have been variously resolved in our favour even by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment are not adequately and conclusively addressed and resolved within the next fourteen days.
“This ultimatum takes effect from Monday 15th November 2021,” the statement read in part.
NUPENG also listed reasons for its resolution to include non-payment of workers’ salaries, title benefits, among others.
It also accused the management of Chevron of terminating the employment of contract workers for joining the union.
This, it said, was despite the fact that the workers had put in between 10 to 20 years in continuous employment and that their jobs were terminated without payment of terminal benefits.
“For the records, these benefits were in line with the subsisting Collective Bargaining Agreement as at the time these workers were laid off. This fact has been severally established but Chevron management unscrupulously short paid these workers and locked them out of its premises.
“In similar manner, Chevron management also terminated the employment of Contract workers in MUYIDEEN (Labour Contractor) and YKISH (Labour Contractor) because these workers consented to join the Union and when the employment of these workers who have variously put in between 10 to 20 years in continuous employment was terminated, no single kobo has been paid to them as terminal benefits.
“There is also the matter concerning PYRAMIDT workers, who for more than 20 years now being moved from one Labour Contractor to another without conditions of service and Union representation/ recognition.
“The struggle for the unionization of these have spanned several years with workers remaining resolute to be members of NUPENG,” the statement added.
The union also claimed that contract workers working in OML 42 of NPDC are being continuously owed salaries and allowances for upwards of 8 to 10 months and all effort to make management of NPDC and the contractors do the needful haven’t received any meaningful attention and actions.
“Nigeria Agip Oil Company and its contractors are also owing contracts workers’ salaries and allowances for upwards of 10 months. These workers are being denied salaries and allowances on very inhuman and wicked excuses that the Contractors are yet to fulfil certain due process, yet this due process is not stopping NAOC from exploiting the skills and sweats of these Nigerians for profits while the workers and their families are wallowing in hardship and poverty.”
“In a similar manner, NAOC has since early 2020 being using the excuse of COVID-19 to keep several of our members away from work while using casual/daily paid workers to do their work even while there is a subsisting contract.”
The union said despite the fact that these issues have been tabled before different government agencies/institutions and they have been resolved, the decisions remain unimplemented while their members keep suffering in excruciating jeopardy.
The National Leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Tuesday criticised the actions of Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai in the ongoing labour dispute in the state.
In a statement signed by the group’s National President, Williams Akporeha and General Secretary, Afolabi Olawale, NUPENG described El-Rufai’s government as “dictatorial and despotic”.
The Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have embarked on a five-day warning strike and protests in the state over the sack of over 7,000 government workers.
The Kaduna state government has insisted that it does not have the financial wherewithal to pay the relieved workers.
On Tuesday, the state government declared labour union leaders wanted in the state for economic sabotage, saying the industrial action had affected key state infrastructure and services, including health and power.
Labour union leaders have accused the state government of actions tantamount to ‘abuse of powers’, including disrupting a peaceful protest with thugs.
NUPENG, in its statement, said it was “deeply saddened” with the turn of events in Kaduna.
“The Leadership of the Union is therefore calling on the Federal Government to immediately call on Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to order before his arrogance and power-drunk ego further push the situation into horrendous calamity as he has been doing in all issues relating to human lives and wellbeing,” the statement said.
“Consequently, the Union reiterates that no Labour Leaders or workers as the case may be, be harmed, harassed, maimed, humiliated or victimized during this 5-day peaceful protests in the State.
“Our Union is raising this alarm following the very reliable report of the clandestine move of Governor Nasir El-RUfai to hurt and put the lives of NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and other Labour Leaders to danger in his usual blind egotistical style of running government in the State
“NUPENG, therefore, warns that if any harm is inflicted on any of the members of organized Labour, the Leadership of the Union will not hesitate to call on all our members throughout the nation for a total shut down of all our services in the upstream, mid-stream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry.
“In the light of the above, we are therefore putting all NUPENG members nationwide on red alert and may at very short notice of five hours call for a nationwide industrial action if the situation arises
“Our solidarity remains constant for the Union makes us strong.”
The disagreement between the government and labour union in Kaduna State is worsening and its consequences already stare residents in the face.
One of the negative effects of the impasse is the looming scarcity of fuel as members of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) threaten to down tools for an initial period of five days.
This followed the directive of the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) that all workers in the state should withdraw services within the period, in protest against some of the actions of the government.
The union accused the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, of anti-labour acts such as the sacking of many workers in the state and refusal to implement the new minimum wage.
In a circular obtained by Channels Television on Wednesday, the oil workers were directed to down tools from work from Sunday.
“Following the series of anti-labour acts and behaviour of the Kaduna State government being led by Mr El-Rufai, as shown in the mass sack of teachers and other civil servants in the state, and his refusal to implement the new minimum wage as provided for in the new minimum wage law, the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed that there should be a total withdrawal of services to Kaduna State by the Nigerian Workers for five days in the first instance from Sunday, 16 May 2021.
“Consequent upon that directive, you are hereby direct to effect maximum compliance of this directive for the successful execution of this campaign against anti-labour activities and behaviour of the Executive Governor of Kaduna State.
“Our solidarity remains constant for the union makes us strong!” said the circular dated May 11, 2021, and addressed to the Chairman/Secretary of the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD) branch of NUPENG.
First To Pay New Minimum Wage
Although the state government has since refuted the claims by the labour union, it announced in April that it would right-size its public service.
The government explained that the decision was necessary to enable it to cope with fiscal challenges and preserve its ability to use its resources for the entire state.
It noted that verification of personnel data was being conducted to determine the specific number of political appointees and civil servants that will be affected.
The government had also denied the allegations of anti-labour activities, stressing that workers have been receiving the new minimum wage since 2019.
“In September 2019, the Kaduna State government became the first government to begin paying the new N30,000 minimum wage and consequential adjustments.
“The state government also increased minimum pension to N30,000 monthly for those on the defined benefits scheme. The state is honouring these obligations and will continue to do so,” Governor El-Rufai’s spokesperson, Muyiwa Adekeye, had said in a statement on Monday last week.
He added that the state government banned casualisation of staff in 2017, the same year in which authorised establishments were approved for all the 23 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Adekeye said Kaduna North and Kaduna South LGAs were authorised to have 256 staff each, and 304 staff were approved for each of the other 21 local councils.
National President of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Williams Akporeha, on Monday said labour leaders in Rivers state have gone underground for fear of harassment by the state government.
Akporeha made the remarks during an appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.
He was responding to questions about why workers decided to embark on a mass protest in the state on Tuesday.
“The issues are numerous, ranging from the non-implementation of the minimum wage in Rivers, nonpayment of pensioners for several years, the sealing-up of NLC (Nigeria Labour Congress) Secretariat in Rivers state for the past six months,” Akporeha said.
“Several appeals have been made to the Governor that the path he is treading is not good for an industrial, harmonious relationship; but all that seems to have fallen on deaf ears; And as union too, once all those efforts fail, the next thing is to cry out.
“The case of Rivers has become so serious because of the anti-labour stance of the Governor. He has also gone about harassing labour leaders in the state. No labour leader seems to be safe. Everybody is operating from underground as we speak. And we felt this is democracy. If any Governor is embarking on dictatorship against the labour movement, that should not be accepted.”
The Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Paulinus Nsirim, who had also been invited to Sunrise Daily, was unable to make it.
No National Protest
The Rivers State Government on Saturday accused the NLC of instigating workers into industrial action, despite a court order against such.
However, the NLC has said it is not aware of any court injunction and will go on with its mass protest on Tuesday, Akporeha said.
NUPENG is an affiliate of the NLC.
“The mass protest, which is a peaceful one, is meant to bring to the attention of the state government of Rivers and the terror and authoritarian stand of the Governor over labour issues in that state,” Akporeha said.
“Our role is to give solidarity and that is why we have called on all our members in Rivers to come out for that peaceful protest on Tuesday.”
Mr Akporeha said his association is not involved in any nationwide strike, in light of rumours of an action over increased fuel and electricity tariffs.
“We are only involved on a solidarity peaceful mass protest in Rivers state; that’s our mandate for now,” he said.
“The peaceful mass protest will go ahead, and we are calling on all our members in the downstream and upstream, especially in the depot areas and filling station workers, to all come out en mass to join in solidarity to save Rivers state workers.”
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have threatened to embark on a nationwide strike.
The unions threatened to go on strike with effect on Sunday if the Federal Government fails to pay their three months salary arrears.
Expressing their displeasure with the development, the protesting members went to the headquarters of the Petroleum Trust Development Funds (PTF) claiming that the Federal Government is withholding their salaries since May 2020 for failing to migrate to the Integrated Payroll System.
The unions insisted that they are not against the Integrated Payroll System but needed the clarification of grey areas before the implementation of the new scheme.
One of the protesting members speaking on behalf of his colleagues lamented on the non-payment of salary.
He said, “for the past three months we have not been paid our salaries, we have engaged with the government and IPPIS.”
The protesters who were dressed in red attire carried placards written, “No To Forceful Enrollment into IPPIS”, “Release Our Salaries Now”, “We Are Not Against IPPIS but Create Another Platform That Addresses Our Peculiarities,” “We have families and dependents pay our salaries, pay Nigerian workers, pay our three months’ salaries” among others.
After listening to the unions, the Executive Secretary of PTDF, Aliyu Gusau, who spoke on behalf of the Minister of State for Petroleum, assured the members that their message will be delivered to the minister.
“I want to commend you all for the orderly manner you all are conducting yourselves.
“I also want to commend the approach you all are using to engage with the Federal Government, I’m aware of some these issues and also aware of the efforts the minister is trying to use to solve these issues.
“I want to assure you that all your messages will be communicated with emphasis to the minister who is away in Yeanogoa, but I want to appeal to you all at all times to always put the interest of the nation ahead of anything else.
“Your grieves are real and as a matter of fact these issues can be resolved through positive engagement with the government”, he added.
The national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has ordered petroleum tanker drivers to withdraw their services from Lagos from Monday, August 10.
According to a communique by NUPENG on Friday, the directive comes on the heels of a failure to address three major issues causing tanker drivers pains in the state for months.
The statement titled “NUPENG leadership directs withdrawal of services by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State with effect from Monday, August 10, 2020”, was signed by National President Williams Akporeha and General Secretary, Olawale Afolabi.
“The entire rank and file members of the union are deeply pained, frustrated and agonized by the barrage of these challenges being consistently faced by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State and are left with no other option but to direct the withdrawal of their services in Lagos State until the Lagos State Government and other relevant stakeholders address these critical challenges.
“It is sad and disheartening to note here that we had made several appeals and reports to the Lagos State Government and the Presidential Task Force for the decongestion of Apapa on these challenges but all to no avail.
“We resolved to embark on an indefinite strike beginning from 12 am, Monday, August 10, 2020, if there are no decisive and convincing actions from the Lagos State Government to address these concerns and challenges,” the statement partly read.
Below is the full communique as was signed by the NUPENG leadership.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is alleged to have sacked 850 contract staff working in the nation’s refineries.
This is according to a statement jointly signed by the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN).
It was signed by Williams Akporeha (NUPENG National President), Ndukaku Ohaeri (PENGASSAN National President), Afolabi Olawale (NUPENG General Secretary), and Lumumba Okugbawa (PENGASSAN General Secretary).
The unions also faulted the comments purportedly made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, on refineries and oil and gas workers in the country.
They accused the minister of claiming that the refineries have not been working for three years while workers have continued to receive salaries and promotions.
He was also said to have blamed the oil workers for the sorry state of the refineries and that the union threatened to go on strike when NNPC said it would sack support staff.
In their response, the unions said the purported comments were laced with fabricated misinformation, misrepresentation of facts and falsehoods.
They said such comments were uncharitable and appalling, alleging that the minister was only making attempt to blamed what they described as the policy failure, maladministration, lack of foresight, and mismanagement of the refineries on hapless workers.
“On the purported threat of the Group Managing Director of NNPC to sack workers, we wish to state here that it was actually no more a threat but that it had already been carried out with the sack of 850 support staff in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, throwing almost a thousand workers into hard financial situation without an iota of empathy or consultation with the union,” the statement said.
The unions denied the claim that they threatened to go on strike, saying they demanded to be engaged for a proper discussion on the commensurate terminal benefits of the workers who have worked for 10 to 15 years.
“If a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Group Managing Director of NNPC can dismiss contract workers that have served for more than 10 years continuously as if they are rodents, what more can we expect from lOCs?
“The monthly salaries of 25 of these contract staff put together cannot equal a typical management staff salary of the same organisation,” the statement added.
When contacted for its reaction, the NNPC told Channels Television that it would speak about the allegations on Wednesday.
The leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), have said that any attempt by multinational and indigenous Oil and Gas Companies to downsize, sack, or introduce indecent work system on its members would be resisted.
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the leadership of the unions stated that they sympathise with the employers over the negative impacts COVID-19 is having on the industry and business operations, but the moves if not properly checked, will further complicate the already impoverished state of Nigerian Oil and Gas Workers.
“The leadership of NUPENGASSAN condemn these moves and vow to resist them with all our might, as the moves are seen as unfair to the selfless and patriotic services of the Nigerian Oil and Gas workers to these Companies and the Nation over these past highly productive years and even when these workers are still fully participating in the frontline of the struggle against the pandemic rendering essential services.
These moves if not properly checked and managed by relevant authorities whose guidelines are being continually disobeyed by these Organisations will further complicate the already impoverished state of Nigerian Oil and Gas Workers, their immediate family and others depending on the workers’ incomes, for a living.”
The unions also called on the Federal Government to “urgently nip these ugly trends in the bud to avoid many untoward and damaging consequences of the actions and reactions.
The statement added that the unions will be forced to carry out an action that will affect the entire industry if the trend is not halted.
“The Federal Government and all its relevant Agencies are further put on notice that NUPENGASSAN might be forced to precipitate an action that will affect drastically the entire industry if this ugly trend is not halted and erring Organisations called to order.
“We earnestly implore these Companies that in the same manner and spirit they are making donations for the fight against COVID-19, they should also spare some kind thoughts for their Workers and strive to keep them alive and on the job so as not to create social upheavals that would be more devastating than the COVID19 pandemic.”
The Federal Government has given marketers of cooking gas to clear out illegal and roadside dealers within two months or face a clampdown on activities of retail outlets in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
The ultimatum was given by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) at a forum where an agreement was reached with the Liquefied Petroleum Gas unit of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) on Friday.
According to the DPR’s zonal operations controller, Buba Abubakar, the union is aware of the inherent dangers of not registering and the DPR is ready to look at their grievances objectively.
He added that the retailers will not be given preference when it comes to giving suitable locations for their business around the FCT.
“We are going to give gas retailers two months to talk to their members on the dangers of not registering or just setting up their cylinders and start selling.
“They have agreed to talk to their members, they will register and we will look at it objectively because of the location; we cannot give them site suitability anywhere,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, NUPENG’s Principal Organizing Secretary, Alexander Stephen, stated that most of its members are registered with a valid identity card, but they hope to report those operating illegally to the DPR for sanctions.
“We have identity cards, we have means of identifying our members and our agreement is to report those who are not our members to DPR who will eventually get most of them off the streets.”
The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) has asked employers in both the private and public sector to immediately implement the new minimum wage.
President of the union, Comrade Williams Akporeha, also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to end Nigeria’s continued dependence on imported petroleum products.
The call was in a communique issued at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Sunday in Lagos.
“We implore all employers of labour, public and private, to ensure immediate implementation.
“We offer our hands of fellowship to all workers who might need support in the unforeseen situation of any employer, including state government that attempts to cut corners in the implementation of the new minimum wage.”