Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), yesterday, began a three-day strike over unpaid salaries.
Similarly, the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) has said there would be “war” if the Nigerian government did not fulfil its promises to the health sector.
PENGASSAN national public relations officer, Fortune Obi, said the salaries were withheld because of the workers refusal to enrol into the Integrated Payroll and Personnel information system (IPPIS).
The strike will affect the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Authority (PPPRA), Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), Petroleum Training Institute (PTI) and the Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR).
As the action began, the striking senior staff staged a protest in Abuja, displaying various placards with inscriptions such as “IPPIS is a pandemic than COVID-19, the President should act fast” and “IPPIS office, respect your agreement and come for negotiations” among others.
They insisted that the government had not done enough to convince them that IPPIS was robust enough to handle the peculiarities of the environment they work, noting that it was wrong to lump them with civil servants on the IPPIS platform.
National President of MHWUN, Biobelemoye Josiah, told newsmen after receiving an award from the Ethics Resource Center of Nigeria for the medical worker of the decade (2011-2020) in Abuja, yesterday, that government should not to lead medical workers into “temptation”, saying that any strike in this period will be terrible for the country.
He said: “We entered into agreement with the Federal Ministry of Health where the ministry agreed that there was error in the implementation of the COVID-19 allowances. People who are earning N5,000 that ought to have been prepared on 50 per cent were given 10 per cent. Well, in our traditional way, we didn’t immediately rush on to strike, we engaged government and they have seen that reason. We are believing and hoping that before they pay the third batch, that correction will be made.
“I want to make a very bright appeal to the Federal Ministry of Health as well as the Nigerian government. Do not lead us into temptation.Because if you lead us into temptation when we have expressed very high level of patience, you will not be forgiven by nature, God and the people. That correction should be made and every other demand we have made peacefully should be given to us so that they don’t push us into embarking on strikes that we know will be negatively impactful on Nigerians.
“I am not going to close the door on dialogue, but dialogue cannot be inexhaustible. Dialogue must have a mark where it starts and ends, but where we begin to see that they are igniting our appetite to distrust them, that will be the signal for war,” he said.
President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, expressed his endorsement of the MHWUN President saying that the award was well deserved for all his efforts in the health sector over the years.
“The COVID-19 has exposed some challenges in two critical sectors of the economy. These two sectors are education sector and health sector and they shape development everywhere around the world. Therefore, we need more investment in health and education. Our people need to be healthy and educated to be productive,” he said.