Uncertainty surrounds the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) recent nationwide strike threat following the expiration of the ultimatum its national secretariat issued to the Federal Government.
Investigation revealed that some of the officials and unit officers of the union in the state are yet to receive directive from the NUPENG national secretariat on the strike contrary to the ultimatum.
The union’s unit chairman at the Oando Tank Farm in Port Harcourt said “as the unit chairman, l am yet to receive any directive from either the union’s state office or national secretariat to mobilise our members fo a nationwide strike in accordance with the union’s ultimatum to government”.
The unit chairman further said that “when we receive such directive we will comply without hesitation”.
He stated that unit officers of the union in the state were yet to be briefed on the appropriateness and propriety of the nationwide strike by the union state or national officers.
Also, at the Master Energy Loading Depot Abonnema Wharf, the union officials said they were loading pending the directive of the state or national secretariat of the union.
The official said “we are working, you could see tankers are loading (PMS) for distribution, we are yet to receive any strike directive”.
He added that members of the union were waiting on the state officials to summon the various unit officials for a meeting for explanation on the National secretariat directive.
Meanwhile, the general secretary of the union, Comrade Elijah Okougbo had in a statement in Abuja said that the strike had to do with unresolved issues over loan obtained by Jetty and Petroleum Tank Farm Owners Association of Nigeria (JEPTFON) from some banks in the country to satisfy the demand for fuel importation.
According to the union’s scribe, the union was demanding the implementation of a section of the agreement reached with the federal government to allow JEPTFON, a subsidiary association of the union to pay back the loan in 15 years with three percent interest rate.
Comrade Okougbo said the union was compelled to issue the ultimatum following the federal government non-implementation of the agreement as well as the banks pressure on the petroleum tank farm owners.
He added that the union had made efforts to call the attention of government agencies to the JEPTFON plight without success despite drastic reduction of their workforce to repay the loan.
Labour Lauds Rivers Assembly Over Power Devolution
The organised labour in Rivers State has commended the Rivers State House of Assembly for backing power devolution in the country.
Speaking to The Tide, the chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress Comrade Beatrice Itubo explained that the decision of the members of the assembly is a step in the right direction and good for the unity and stability of the country.
Itubo added that the lawmakers should call for contributions and input of the key stakeholders before passing into law several bills in the House.
She stressed that allowing critical stakeholders to make input would strengthen the tenets of democracy in the state and indeed Nigeria as majority of the people would better appreciate the bills through dissemination from the stakeholders.
She enjoined the Assembly to reexamine the issue of the local government autonomy proposed by both chambers of the National Assembly, stressing that the congress strongly believe that granting autonomy to the local government councils in Nigeria would strengthen and deepen democracy in the country.
The NLC boss added that the organised labour would continue to mobilize its members to support the assembly to perform its constitutional legislative duties in the state.
She further explained that labour in the state is prepared to partner the assembly in its determination to address the plight of the workers in the state.
She added that the organised labour would continue to commend the state government in its efforts to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
Ex-NLC Boss Tasks FG On Minimum Wage
A former President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Abdulwaheed Omar has urged the Federal Government to always implement the law on regular review of the national minimum wage to promote national growth.
Omar gave the advice in an interview with newsmen in Abuja last Monday.
He said that the call for government to tackle the issue about minimum wage review had become important because of the delay in the implementation of the law.
According to him, the national minimum wage law prohibits employers from hiring workers for less than a given hourly, daily or monthly take home pay.
“The law was established to address issues faced by workers, I think the cause for review of the national minimum is welcomed; it is just that it is almost belated.
“The issue of minimum wage is an aspect of our law; it is now part of our law in Nigeria, so I did not even expect that it will take much time.
“In the first place, the law provides that the minimum wage should be reviewed every five years; the five years elapsed since 2015.
“So, I had expected that that very year government should have set up a tripartite committee then.
“It is not something that government should wait until NLC threatens to embark on strike before it sets up committee, it is about the law that should be respected,” Omar said.
He said although government had promised to review the national minimum wage by the third quarter of the year, it should put measures in place to sustain such and ensure effective implementation.
He said the N18, 000 minimum wage was long overdue for review and urged government to act promptly to improve the economic well-being of workers.
PenCom Recovers N1.34bn Pension
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has recovered pension contributions and interest totalling N1.34billion from defaulting employers during the third quarter of 2017.
The Commission in its 2017 third quarter report posted on its website said it used 55 consultants as recovery agents to get back the outstanding pension contributions and penalties from the defaulting employers.
PenCom said the affected employers were issued with appropriate notice to remit the outstanding pension contributions.
“During the quarter, the sum of N1.34 billion was recovered, this brings the total recoveries made since inception of the Recovery Agents’ activities in 2012 to N13.58 billion,” it stated.
On Pension contributions within the period, it indicates that the total monthly pension contribution by contributors from the public and private sectors into their Retirement Saving Accounts (RSA) was N4.38 trillion.
This, it said showed an increase of N135.22 billion representing 3.18 per cent over the total contributions as at the end of the previous quarter.
According to the report, the aggregate total contribution shows that the public sector contributed 51.34 per cent, while the private sector contributed the remaining 48.64 per cent.
It, however, pointed out that during the quarter under review; the public sector contributed 40.87 per cent of the total contributions received while the private sector contributed 59.13 per cent.
It further revealed that the aggregate total pension contribution of the private sector increased from N2.05 trillion as at second quarter of 2017 to N2.13 trillion as at third quarter of 2017, representing a growth of 3.89 per cent.
Also, the aggregate total pension contribution by the public sector grew by 2.52 per cent from N2.20 trillion to N2.25 trillion over the same period.
The statement noted that the commission continued the ongoing refund of contributions made by military and other security service agencies personnel exempted from the contributory pension scheme.
It added that during the quarter under review, the department responsible for military pensions processed 254 applications for the refund.
PenCom said N39.83 million was refunded to the contributors while the sum of N127.13 million, representing contributions made by the Federal Government on their behalf was returned to the contributory pension account.
The statement also indicated that 27 state governments have enacted laws to implement the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) as at the third quarter of 2017, while eight states were currently in the process of implementing the CPS law.
The report revealed that Yobe was, however, yet to commence the process of enacting a law on the CPS.
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