• Monday, May 27, 2024
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UPDATE: FG, Labour in crucial meeting to avert planned Monday strike, protest

Ayuba Wabba

The Federal Government of Nigeria and Organised Labour commenced a crucial meeting at about 9pm on Sunday with a view to averting the looming nationwide industrial action billed for Monday, September 28, over the increase in electricity tariff by distribution companies (DisCos) and the hike in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).

The outcome of the government’s meeting with Labour unions under the auspices of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) currently ongoing at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, will determine whether the planned nationwide strike and protest by Labour will proceed or not.

Charles Akpan, deputy director and head of press and public relations at the Ministry of Labour and Employment had earlier announced that the meeting would commence at 7pm today (Sunday), but the meeting could not commence till about 9pm.

Earlier on Sunday, the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, over the issues but the meeting ended in a deadlock as labour insisted on the reversal of the hikes.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, last Thursday scheduled a meeting with the Labour unions which also ended in a stalemate. This was after a meeting at the Banquet Hall a week earlier also failed to resolve the issues.

The Federal Government has said that fuel subsidy removal which resulted in the hike in the pump price of petroleum products and the increase in electricity tariff have become inevitable as the government can no longer continue with those subsidies.

Analysts have also backed the Federal Government on the decisions, arguing that going back to subsidies would hurt the Nigerian economy.

There are doubts about the government and Labour reaching amicable resolution of this impasse in today’s dialogue as the Labour unions have hardened their positions on reversal of the hikes, while government insists there is no going back on subsidy removal.

The NLC and the TUC last Tuesday insisted that they would mobilize their members across the federation to proceed with the planned strike and protest with effect from Monday, September 28, following the failure of the Federal Government to reverse the hikes in electricity tariffs and fuel pump price.

NLC President Wabba said this after the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Labour union, which endorsed the two-week ultimatum given to the Federal Government to reverse those “obnoxious decisions”.

The Federal Government had early in September hiked the pump price of petrol from N138 per litre to N151 per litre, saying it has withdrawn subsidy on petroleum products.

This decision was announced just a day after the DisCos had also increased the electricity tariff.

Labour said fuel price hike and electricity tariff increase have further eroded the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage agreed by the Federal Government because it has spiral effects which include the high costs of food and services and the reduction in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.