FG, Labour’s eight-hour meeting ends in Standstill

September 16, 2020

Yesterday  Tuesday 15, 2020 an eight-hour meeting involving the Federal Government,  the Nigeria Labour Congress, and the Trade Union Congress ended in a standstill. following the inability of the parties to reach a consensus.

Whilorganizedanised labour was demanding the reversal of the hikes in the price of trol and electricity tariffs, the Federal Government pleaded for understanding, saying it could not sustain the fuel subsidy.

Although the government team made presentations on its policies, it didn’t specify how the effects of the hikes in electricity and petroleum products would be alleviated.

Also on Tuesday,  the TUC has said the indefinite strike and nationwide protest billed to commence from  Wednesday, September 23, would hold as planned.

The congress had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government on Monday, threatening to embark on an indefinite strike if the Federal Gove ment failed to revert to the old electricity tariff and the price of petrol.

Olaleye in response to inquiries by the punch said in a text message at 6:30 pm on Tuesday said, “The ultimatum still stands; no acceptable explanation was presented. Still in the meeting.”

The dialogue which held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, began around 11 am and dragged on till past 7 pm without a resolution on the issues raised by the organized labour

The Federal Government two weeks ago increased the ex-depot price of petrol from N 138.62 to N147.67,  pro ting mar ters to adjust their trol prices to between N158 and N162 from N148 to N150 in August. The  ex-depot price is the price at the which government sells petrthe ol to marketer

The fuel price hike came at a time electricity distribution companies increased their tariffs

The parties, however, agreed that the unions should go for consultations with their executive council members and return for the second leg of the meeting at a future date.

The labour unions are expected to hold an expanded meeting today (Wednesday), where they would take a final position on the issues raised at the dialogue and revert back to the government.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige led the government team to the parley which also had in attendance the Minister of State, Labour, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Power, Saleh

Mamman; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre, Sylva, and others

The labour team was led by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba;  President of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, Secretary-General of the TUC, Musa Lawal, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria President, Festus, Osifo and the President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Association of Nigeria, Williams Akporeha, among others.

In his welcome address, Ngige said there was  an urgent need for all stakeholders in the country to join hands to fashion out “how we can survive the economic challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He said the meeting was “a bilateral dialogue between us as Nigerians to consider the state of the economy and events that have necessitated recent increases in electricity tariff and the price of Premium Motor Spirit.”

But Wabba argued that the high prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff had erased the gains of the minimum wage.

He faulted the government for unilaterally fixing the prices of electricity and petrol without consultations with Nigerians.

According to him, many Nigerians are struggling to survive because of the high cost of living occasioned by the government’s recent policies which included the increase in the Value Added Tax.

Wabba stated, “The question now is what do you have on the table to actually cushion the effect on workers and their families because they have been pushed to the wall. They are alengagednraged.

Do you have anything for us so that we can say yes, despite this challenges, this is what I have for Nigerian work s so  that they can have something that can cushion this effect for them?

“Already, the value of the minimum wage has been eroded; that is the reality. If Ghana commits its minimum wage with our own, you will see their minimum wage.”

  1. He accused the government of transferring the “inefficiency in the subsidy regime” to the consumers which they (consumers) have to pay through the hike in price.

 

 

.urce.. Punch ng

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