News

June 19, 2023

Subsidy: Labour threatens strike as talks resume with FG

NLC

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has threatened to embark on a strike ahead of the Federal Government and the organised labour billed to hold today (Monday).

The NLC is demanding that the government meet its demands to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal.

It said it would not hesitate to call out workers for industrial action, adding that it only suspended its planned strike.

According to NLC, the high cost of fuel was inflicting unbearable hardship on Nigerians.

It said the government must act fast with respect to providing palliatives, adding that it was expecting an increase in the minimum wage from N30,000 to N150,000.

Recall that the Federal Government and labour unions met on June 5, 2023, with a resolution to reconvene on June 19 to agree on the implementation framework of the resolutions reached.

The former Speaker of the House of Representatives and current Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, who led the government side, had disclosed this at the end of the meeting between labour and government representatives at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Gbajabiamila said the June 5 meeting agreed on a seven-point resolution to cushion the effect of the subsidy removal on Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, on Nigerians.

He said, “The Federal Government, the TUC, and the NLC to establish a joint committee to review the proposal for any wage increase or award and establish a framework and timeline for implementation.

“The Federal Government, the TUC and the NLC to review the World Bank Financed Cash transfer scheme and propose the inclusion of low-income earners in the programme.

“The Federal Government, the TUC and the NLC to revive the CNG conversion programme earlier agreed with Labour centres in 2021 and work out detailed implementation and timing,” he said.

But, speaking on the expectations of labour from the meeting scheduled to hold today (Monday), the Vice President, NLC, Adewale Adeyanju, said a lot of things had been presented by labour unions, stressing that the government should not act funny.

“There are a lot of things that labour has been putting before the government. The refineries need to be revamped. We cannot continue to import refined petroleum products and be spending on subsidies all the time.

“Labour has its set of demands and by the time we meet with the government tomorrow we will list them out again,” he stated.

On the action the NLC would take should the government fail to give in to the demands of labour, Adeyanju said, “You know we only suspended our strike as a result of the need to meet on this.

“So the government should know that things are becoming difficult and they (the government) should not decide to do anything funny. The strike was only suspended. It was an ultimatum that was given out and it (strike) was suspended.

“So let’s hear what the government has for us and then we will know what to tell our members. It is about the lives of the people. Let’s meet them tomorrow and then labour will come out with its position.”

Adeyanju, however, expressed optimism that the meeting would be fruitful and insisted that the NLC would not want the government to behave funny.

“We hope that the meeting is going to be fruitful. The expectations are very high. The nation is watching and people are looking at how the Nigeria Labour Congress is going to handle the situation.

“And the government too will not like to behave funny because they know the country is battling with the increase in fuel pump price and so many things,” he stated.

On the proposal by oil marketers for the deployment of Compressed Natural Gas at filling stations, the NLC official stated that a technical committee had been set up by the Federal Government to look into the matter.

“The government has set up a technical committee on some of these issues. So I don’t want us to preempt the outcomes that will come out from that meeting tomorrow between labour and the government,” he said.

On the need to deploy CNG, the National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chinedu Okonkwo, stated that oil marketers were looking forward to the outcomes of the meeting between the Federal Government and labour before making their moves.

“That meeting tomorrow (Monday) is very crucial, because marketers are ready to deploy CNG, but the outcome of that meeting will tell us whether the government is ready to give the support needed to make this initiative fruitful.

“We are very confident that with the deployment of CNG as a substitute to PMS, the harsh effect caused by petrol price hike would be addressed significantly,” Okonkwo said.