Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have vowed to go on strike if the Federal Government delay in the payment of N800 billion subsidy arrears to oil marketers.
Reports has it that the Federal Government has approved the payment, but the Ministry of Finance is awaiting approval from the National Assembly before it embarks on disbursement.
The two union on Wednesday, in a joint communiqué after their joint National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, said that the strike has become absolutely necessary following the continuous deteriorating welfare of its members working in the various companies owned by oil marketers.
The communiqué signed by the marketers’ legal adviser, Patrick Etim, said that their members working with oil companies had not been paid salaries for up to nine months by marketers due to inability of government to redeem its commitment to pay in spite of the intervention of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the directive given to the Minister of Finance to effect payment on or before the end of July 2017.
The marketers under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPPMA) and Independent Petroleum Products Importers (IPPIs) stated that in the last six months, they have been inundated by officials of our various labour units operating in tank farms and depots across the country that most petroleum product importers and marketing companies are owing our members backlog of salaries now up to nine months.
However, a close source from the Ministry of Finance who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the Federal Government would begin payment as soon as it gets approval from the National Assembly.
According to the source, the Federal Government has approved the promissory note proposed to settle all outstanding subsidy claims, but required National Assembly’s approval before the marketers will be paid.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun had said that the Federal Executive Council had approved the Ministry of Finance’s proposed validation process and promissory note and debt issuance programme to resolve a number of inherited and long outstanding Federal Government obligations to contractors, State governments and employees.
According to her, the process will be followed by a request to the National Assembly to approve the programme ahead of implementation.
Lending his voice to the issue, Managing Director, Danvic Petroleum International Corporation, Dr. Afe Mayowa said that it is important that the Federal Government pay the marketers on time to avoid negative impact on their families and businesses.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Obafemi Olawore, said that the development is already taking a toll on staff welfare, operation and expansion plans of MOMAM members, which if not tackled, can lead to retrenchment of some workers.