• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Updated: Despite Reps intervention, Labour insists on strike, protest

Femi Gbajabiamila

Despite the intervention of the House of Representatives to avert the planned nationwide strike and protests over the failure of the Federal Government to reverse the hikes in electricity tariffs and fuel pump price, the organized labour has insisted on going ahead with the actions from Monday.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) last week vowed to mobilize its members across the federation to proceed with its planned strike and protest with effect from September 28 (Monday) over the recent fuel price and electricity tariffs increase.

In attempt to forestall the industrial action and its impact, particularly on the economy, the leadership of the House Sunday met with the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba; President of Trade Union Congress(TUC) Quadri Olaleye and NLC Secretary General, Emma Ugboaja.

But at the end of the closed door meeting that lasted about an hour, the NLC President said as far the demands on the Federal Government to reverse the hikes were not met, the strike and protests would go on as planned.

He said: “Well if the issues are not addressed, you are aware that we have given a notice and that notice will certainly expire tomorrow. All the action pronounced will take effect”.

While dismissing an existing court judgement restraining labour from embarking on strike, Ayuba said: “We have not been served as I said. In good faith you recall that we are on the negotiation table up till late Thursday night and therefore our expectation is that we should be able to in good faith continue to dialogue not to try to also ambush because we have not received the order as of today we don’t also know the details of any order”.

In his remarks before the meeting went closed door, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila appealed to the organized labour to shelve off the idea of embarking on the industrial action as it would cripple economic activities of the country.

“You know we cants do this, we can’t go on this strike. We can’t in good conscience, we are on the same page on most of the things and you know that. We, the leadership and the House of Representatives are on the same page with you.

“But, what is the consequence, and that’s the bigger picture of going on strike. When we have complete government shut down, the people we seek to protect invariably end up holding the short end of the stick. So, it ends up defeating the purpose”, he said.

Gbajabiamila noted that the legislature has been meeting with the executive to review the policies on fuel and electricity prices and called on labour to at least wait for weeks and see the outcome of legislative interventions.

He disclosed that the 2021 budget would be submitted to the National Assembly in a couple of weeks and most of issues raised by labour concerning the welfare of Nigerian workers would be provided for.

“We have had meeting with the Vice President, we have had meeting with the executive on this issue, but the issue of electricity, we told them at least wait till the first or second quarter of next year and that is where we left it.

“The good things is that, this agitation is coming at the right time in the sense that I believe in the next couple of weeks or less, the budget will be presented. Many of these things have a lot to do with the budget.

“To stop estimated billings, we also need the metres to capture the true cost of the electricity that is being consumed. Now, in metering, we will provide for that in the budget, it is a deficit of about 8 million metres with my understanding, that can be provided for in the budget, if need be”, Gbajabiamila added.