September 12, 2020

Fuel, electricity tariff hike: Why we rescheduled meeting with organized labour ― FG


Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment

Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

THE Federal Government Saturday said that it had to reschedule the meeting earlier planned to hold on Saturday with the organized labour because the leaderships of the two Labour centres had engagement outside Abuja.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige announced that the meeting has been rescheduled to hold on Tuesday.

A statement issued by the Minister through the Deputy Director, Press in the Ministry, Charles Akpan, read, “The meeting has been rescheduled to Tuesday, 15th Sept at 10am. Venue is Banquet Hall of Presidential Villa. This is to accommodate all participants.”

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Friday after meeting with Senator Ngige, gave the approval for the relevant government agencies in charge of finance to meet with the labour to present the book on the nation’s economy.

Some Labour Unions including the Trade Union Congress, TUC, had condemned the recent increase in the petroleum pump price occasioned by the removal of fuel subsidy and the electricity tarrif hike and had called for a reversal with immediate effect.

It was reliably gathered that the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, was making consultations with its relevant organs over the increases.

Besides, some unions had threatened to embark on strike over the inability of the government to keep to agreement it entered with them.

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Speaking to journalists after meeting with the President, Senator Ngige said, “The President has approved for us to have a bigger government side meeting with the organized private labour; all the government institutions that have to do with the finances of government so that we meet with them and show them the books.

“So, the invitation is going out to them this afternoon (Friday), the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress and their affiliates or supporters and friends in the Civil Society Organisations. The meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, so, I will relate more with the Chief of Staff to the President and the leadership of the unions today so that we do this meeting tomorrow.

“At the meeting, government finances, challenges and everything will be laid bare on the table. Their own fears and what they think is also good for the Nigerian people especially the workers, they will also table it so that we look at it.”

He said that the recent hike in electricity tariff was done by the regulatory body based on certain realities confronting the sector.

He said: “The electricity tariff as you know, the Electricity Regulatory Commission approved the increase based on certain electricity band R1 and R2 and even in the R2 band, you have soft bands so that we can protect the rural poor and people who are in the suburbs.

“So, we are going to look at them holistically because we want a stable labour industrial union in the country so the President has been briefed and he is in tune and has given the support to talk to everybody we need to talk to.”

The leadership of the NLC, said that members could not attend the meeting because information from the government on Friday was impromptu.

Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero said that as at the close of work on Friday, the invitation was yet to get to them.

He said that many of the executive members were not staying in Abuja, adding, “the earliest we could meet is Tuesday.”

How, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige told Sunday Vanguard that the Federal Government delegations were ready on Saturday for the meeting.

Those expected at the meeting from the government side are Senator Ngige who is the Conciliator-General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance and National Planning, the Director-General, Budget Office, the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, the Minister of Power, the Minister of State for Petroleum, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.

Vanguard News Nigeria