Members of the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), and their counterparts at the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), at the weekend suspended their five-day-old strike.
The suspension was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a marathon meeting with the Minister of Petroleum, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke and the Management of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
The oil workers had on Monday ordered their members to embark on indefinite strike in protest against NNPC’s alleged refusal to address unresolved pension issues concerning workers in the oil industry
The communiqué, which was read by NUPENG President, Mr Achese Igwe, was signed by PENGASSAN President, Mr Francis Johnson, and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Dr Jamila Shu’ara.
Others who signed the communiqué include NNPC GMD, Dr Joseph Dawha; Group Chairman, NNPC PENGASSAN, Mr Abdulhakim Sanusi; Group Chairman NNPC NUPENG, Mr Richard Otovwievwiere and Chairman, Department of Petroleum Resources PENGASSAN, Mr Anba Ndoma-Egba.
Igwe said the industrial action was suspended after the intervention of the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“By virtue of the intervention of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, the strike embarked upon by NUPENG and PENGASSAN of NNPC Group Executive councils and DPR is hereby suspended,” he said.
He said after exhaustive deliberations, the Minister informed the unions that PENCOM letter withdrawing the temporary licence granted to NNPC to run defined Benefited Scheme had been reversed.
According to him, the Minister affirmed that participatory approval had been given to measures and timeliness proposed by the NNPC management to close the existing N86.5bn pension fund gap on or before August 2015.
He said, “The minister emphasised the need to embrace international standard pension fund structure and framework so that the pension gap is closed, the frame work will ensure that the pension fund is invested and managed to guarantee sustainability.
“It was agreed that a committee comprising members drawn from NNPC Management, PENGASSAN, NUPENG, DPR, RSA, and CSLD will be established to work out the modalities and framework for sustaining the NNPC pension scheme, along the oil and gas Private Sector lines.”
He said the Minister also affirmed that the issue of NNPC crude oil supply to refineries, Turn Around Maintenance of the Refineries and other internal operational matters should be internally handled by the NNPC management and the staff unions.
He said the NNPC GMD in consultation with the in-house unions shall determine the amount to be paid as the lump to the pension fund within the approval already granted by the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
He said the Minister assured the meeting that the NNPC GMD has the capacity to deal with the concerns of the unions on the strategic Alliance Agreement between NPDC and other companies.
PENGASSAN President, Mr Francis Johnson, in an interview with newsmen after the meeting said the unions were satisfied with the agreement and would immediately order their members to resume work.
He, however, said the unions would be monitoring the implementation of the agreement which he said would determine the sustainability of the suspended strike.