*Says FG not prepared for honest dialogue
*Insists on reversal of recent fuel price increase
*Accuses govt of violating understanding in suspension of strike
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru—ABUJA
Organised labour, on Monday, lamented that Nigerians had lost Labour, following the botched strike that should have ensued after the federal government increased the price of fuel from N143 to N162 per litre, before the latest hike to N170.
Labour blamed the development on the understanding it reached with government at the time to ensure industrial harmony in the country, but which didn’t go down well with Nigerians.
Briefing journalists in Abuja on Monday, after storming out of a meeting with the government earlier on the latest increase, Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said: “We didn’t buy it (confidence) with money and we will equally not buy back their confidence with money.”
He accused the Federal Government of not being prepared for a sincere and honest dialogue in finding a lasting solution to petroleum price increase and electricity tariffs.
The organised labour also accused the government of violating the understanding reached by the two parties before the planned September strike was suspended, adding that it was one of the reasons that they staged a walk-out at the meeting with government on Sunday night.
Labour said it would not attend any meeting organised by the government until the recent increase in petroleum price was reversed.
Recall that at the resumed meeting between the Federal Government and organised labour at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja on Sunday night, the labour leaders stormed out of the meeting over the recent increase in fuel pump price.
The government team at the meeting was led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo(SAN), the Minister of State for Power, Prince Godwin Jedy-Agba and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva.
Ajaero said: “Our strike was suspended based on certain understanding and those understanding were being violated, that was why we raised that alarm yesterday (Sunday) which led to the walkout.
“This is in spite of the patriotic understanding of labour which has drawn the flak of the public which think we are not doing enough to protect their interests on the issues of petroleum products and electricity tariffs.”
On whether the organised labour would be going on strike, with the recent development, Comrade Ajaero said: “I don’t think we operate that way in the labour movement.
“Our strike was suspended based on certain understanding and those understanding were being violated. That was why we raised that alarm yesterday (Sunday) which led to the walkout.
“We can’t come in here to announce a strike or the next strategy as if it’s just a one-man organisation. Part of what we are doing in terms of engagement is to reach out and if every other means fails, a strike is usually the next option for any union.
“We don’t just at any slightest provocation start declaring a strike, I think that is not what is on the table now but there are certain disagreements which we are trying to address.”
He said in the last agreement entered into by the duo, the government appeared to have its own interpretation of it, different from the spirit and letters of the agreement.