By Bimbola Oyesola and Uche Usim, Abuja
Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), arm of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), yesterday suspended its nationwide strike following the intervention of the Federal Government.
The reports of the suspension were confirmed by both the union and the officials of the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
Daily Sun learnt that the decision to suspend the strike followed the intervention of the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) where the Group Managing Director, Dr Maikanti Baru, at a meeting with the union in Abuja Monday, announced a raise in bridging cost allowance from the current N6.20 per litre to N7.20 with immediate effect.
Bridging cost is the allowance paid to marketers for the transportation of petroleum products from the storage depots to retail outlets across the country.
Dr. Maikanti told the meeting, also attended by representatives of the National Association of Transport Owners (NARTO), the employers of the drivers, that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has already approved the raise.
He said the decision to raise the bridging cost was a goodwill gesture by the Federal Government to demonstrate its commitment to resolve all issues affecting their smooth operations.
“We understand the difficulty of NARTO to go into negotiations with PTD which has to do with the level of bridging allowance. I’m happy to announce to you that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, has just approved the increase of bridging cost allowance from N6.20k to N7.20k.
Speaking with the Daily Sun in a telephone interview yesterday, Deputy Director, Information Ministry of Labour and Employment, Samuel Olowookere, said the parties agreed to suspend the strike, while negotiation would continue today (Tuesday).
“The strike has been suspended since 4 p.m and all the parties are to come back tomorrow to continue the meeting with the Minister”, he said.
In the same vein, the Public Relations Officer of NUPENG PTD, Adebayo Atanda, in another interview affirmed that the strike has been called off.
Atanda who had earlier said the strike would continue as there has not been any directive from the Abuja meeting for Lagos to commence lifting later said the action has now been suspended.
“Comrades,the strike action has been suspended, therefore work can resume thanks for your cooperation”, he stated in a text message sent around 7.30 p.m.
The union representatives had met with the Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige, officials from the NNPC and the employers body around 3 p.m yesterday to find solution to the crisis.
NUPENG National President, Comrade Igwe Achese, commended the intervention of the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and the GMD, NNPC, Ibe Kachikwu, who has done so much to ensure efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country, for the suspension of the strike.
Also speaking, the National President of PTD, Comrade Salimon Akanni Oladiti, applauded the GMD of the NNDC and his management for their timely intervention and urged them to address the unruly behavior of security agencies towards the members.