The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) has issued a 14-day ultimatum to ARCO Petroleum Group PLC, over the non-payment of terminal benefits and allowances of its members laid off in August 2016.
PENGASSAN General Secretary, Comrade Lumumba Okungbawa and NUPENG’s Comrade Afolabi Olawale said in a ststement the unions took the decision in spite of the Minister of Labour and Employment’s intervention.
It, therefore, called for the intervention of the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Group Managing Director, NNPC & Director-General, Department of State Services (DSS) before the matter snowballs into an industrial crisis.
The unions added that Arco said its inability to fulfil its obligations to the workers was because of the excess withholding tax deduction made from Arco by General Electric International Operation Nigeria (GEION).
The unions added that during the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, it was agreed that ARCO, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and GEION should meet and reconcile the figures on the excess withholding tax as alleged by ARCO.
They added that GEION and ARCO Petrochemicals should conclude the reconciliation in two weeks so the workers could be paid.
The agreement also stated that the sum confirmed by the Lagos State Inland Revenue Service office as having been remitted by GEION, but which is under dispute should be reconciled between GEION and FIRS within two weeks to pave way for further action.
The unions, however, said GEION had not taken the specific steps agreed at the meeting to facilitate the process for ARCO to pay the workers their final entitlements.
“We, therefore, call on relevant authorities to compel GEION and any other concerned parties in this matter to do the needful for our members to get their final entitlements without further delay; failure of which the unions would be left with no other option but to go on sympathy industrial action nationwide for the entitlement of the workers to be paid,’’ the statement said.