Labour Unions Suspend Nationwide Protest

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and its Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart had suspended the proposed nationwide strike action and protest scheduled to start from September 28 to press home their demand on increases in the prices of petrol and electricity.

By Abdulrahman Aliagan, Abuja

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and its Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart had suspended the proposed nationwide strike action and protest scheduled to start from September 28 to press home their demand on increases in the prices of petrol and electricity.

This was the outcome of the night long meeting between the organized Labour and representatives of Federal government in a bid to come to a common ground and for peaceful resolution to avert the strike action on Monday, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment

Announcing the agreement reached at the meeting as contained in a communiqué signed by all parties involved in the meeting in another two weeks to see if their agreement with the government is being honored.

According to Ngige,  the unions decided to suspend the strike after fruitful deliberation. “Consequently, the NLC and TUC agreed to suspend the planned industrial action,” he said.

The Minister of Labour, in his remarks on the electricity tariff, he said the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government as well as the NLC and TUC, which will work for duration of two weeks from today.

He added that the responsibility of the committee is to examine the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of conflicting information from the field.

According to him, the technical committee membership is as follows: Chairman: Minister of State Labour & Employment – Festus Keyamo; Minister of State Power – Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission – James Momoh; SA to Mr President on Infrastructure – Ahmad Zakari; NLC member – Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen; NLC member – Joe Ajaero; TUC member – Chris Okonkwo and a representative of electricity distribution companies, DISCOS.

Mr Ngige said the committee would also look at the different DISCOs and their electricity tariff ‘vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate.’

Responding to the issue of fuel increase, Mr Ngige said all parties also agreed on the need for expanding the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependence on the importation of petroleum products

He said, “NNPC to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50 per cent completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee,” he said.

He added that  the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASAN) will be integrated into the Steering Committee already established by the corporation.

“The Federal Government and its agencies to ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel. A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organized Labour shall be established for timely delivery,” he said.

Labour Minister also announced the other palliative coming for the Nigerian populace across the country to cushion the ef.fect of the increases

Ngige said,  “the government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest earners.

“Federal government will give the labour unions 133 CNG/LPG-driven mass transit buses immediately and “provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis thereafter to all States and Local Governments before December 2021.”

“10 per cent of the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative will be allocated to Nigerian workers under the NLC and TUC.

He added that, “A specific amount to be unveiled by the federal government in two weeks’ time which will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund and be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting,”

Commenting on the suspension of the strike, the president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and that of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, confirmed the content of the communique.

Mr Wabba also said the technical committee will work out a lasting solution in addressing the electricity tariff including the issue of metering.

“Other issues are very clear, palliatives that needed to be extended our members and Nigerians that will cushion the effect of these policies. So it is, therefore, the decision of organised labour as represented here to suspend the action and we are going to convey our CWC to present it to them,” he added.

The removal of the subsidy led to an increase in electricity tariff from about N30.23 to about N62.33 per kWh while the price of petrol increased from about N145 to about N161 per litre.

Prime Times

Abdulrahman Aliagan is an Abuja-based seasoned Journalist with close to two decades of uninterrupted practice in Journalism, a PR Expert, a Development Coach and a Media Crisis Management Consultant.
A holder of Bachelor degree in History, a graduate of International Institute of Journalism, IIJ, Jahi, Abuja, he is well trained in various aspects of modern day Journalism including Digital Media and Solution Journalism.
Aliagan is a member of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and is currently the National Secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Investigative Journalists (NGIJ).

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