Talks to shelve the planned strike by the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) commenced on Tuesday in Abuja, but negotiation was shifted to Aug. 3.
A statement signed by Mr Emmanuel Aziken, the Special Assistant on Media to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, said the new date was to allow officials of NUPENG who were out of the country to return.
NUPENG issued the threat to embark on strike because of the bad state of the nationâ€™s road network.
NUPENG had last week given the Federal Government a 21-day ultimatum to address what it cited as the poor state of the nationâ€™s road network, failing which the union would stop supply of petroleum products to Abuja. Chief Emeka Wogu, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, who chaired the meeting said that that talks could, however, not take off fully due to the absence of senior officials of NUPENG.
â€œThe reason for calling off the meeting today is because of the absence of NUPENG because we cannot come to full conclusion without hearing the side of NUPENG because that is the essence of dialogue. In labour issues you need the issue of tripartism and issues that are before us are raised by NUPENG and they are not here to elaborate on the issues.
So anything we do here would be based on speculations, but it has afforded us the opportunity to understand steps taken by government.
Even me as a member of cabinet I did not know that these steps have been taken by my colleague in the Ministry of Works and they need to be commended. It is because of the seriousness that government attaches to issues like this that we are here today to appraise you of the position of infrastructure and the improvement government has done on such infrastructure, especially roads to enable you to carry on with your business, â€˜â€˜Wogu was quoted as saying.
Mr Christopher Akpede, the Senior Assistant General Secretary of NUPENG, who, apologised for the absence of senior officers of the union, said that he had power to negotiate on behalf of the union on the strike threat.
â€œThe leadership of my union has directed me to explain to the ministers that due to circumstances beyond their control, they are out of the country for a training programme in the UK. And that it is better for them to be physically present so that whatever decision is taken would be binding on them.
â€œAnd they said that I should send their apologies for their inability to be present at this meeting but they will be around on or around Aug. 2,â€™â€™ he said.
Earlier, Mr Chris Ogienwonyi, had briefly narrated efforts by the works ministry to repair the road infrastructure in the country, saying that many of the roads were now in good condition. Ogienwonyi said that a journey on the Benin-Lagos road had now been cut down to three hours twenty minutes from the former eight hours.
The Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) on its part commended the Federal Governmentâ€™â€™s quick response to the strike threat. Among those present at the meeting were the Director-General of the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA), Mr Segun Oshinowo, officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).