NLC: Why We Did Not Strike over Hike in Petrol, Electricity Tariff

*The NLC logo.
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By Joan Nwagwu

 

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday said it has not yet adopted nationwide strike as the next line of action in spite of the breakdown of dialogue between government and organised labour on the hike in the petroleum pump price and electricity tariff.

 

Mr Joe Ajaero, deputy president of the NLC, said this at a news conference jointly organised by NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday in Abuja.

 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Organised Labour on Sunday at a reconvened meeting with Federal Government aimed at addressing the increase in price of fuel and electricity tariff staged a walkout.

 

The meeting was necessitated by the recent increase of pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise called petrol, from N160 per litre to N170 and the increase of electricity tariff.

 

Ajaero said that Federal Government has violated the agreements reached with the Organised Labour, adding that the Congress will not at the slightest provocation start talking about strike.

 

“Our strike was suspended on Sept. 28 based on certain understanding and those understanding were being violated and that was why we raised that alarm yesterday, which led to the walk out.

 

“We cannot call you out here to announce a strike as the next strategy as if the unions are one man organisation. Part of what we are doing in terms of engagement is to reach out and if every other means fails, strike is usually the last option by any union.

 

“We do not just at the slightest provocation start talking about strike. I think that is not what is on the table now. There are certain disagreements which we are trying to address.

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“We say that we can’t accept deregulation that is import-driven and that the refineries must work before you think of it and then you go into price fixing.

 

“Price fixing is not the same thing as deregulation, you cannot regulate in a deregulated market. If they have deregulated, the price of product in Sokoto will not be the same thing with that of Abuja, there will be variations,” he said.

 

Speaking, Mr Muhammed Idris, NLC Deputy President, also explained why labour walked out of the meeting with government on Sunday.

 

Idris said that what they had prioritised as urgent was the increment of fuel price and electricity tariff before delving into the issue of palliatives.

 

He said that all efforts to make the government see reason failed and given the tense situation, labour had no option than a walk out.

 

“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.

 

“The terms and conditions for putting the protest on hold were clearly spelt out in the Memorandum of Understanding.

 

“The conditions include fixing the existing refineries, entrusting them to efficient managements, creating an enabling environment for new refineries, and doing all positive things that would ensure enhanced and sustainable local refining capacity.

 

“Furthermore, Government and Labour Committee was setup to review the increase in electricity tariff,” he said.

 

He however, noted that the letter and spirit of the terms and conditions of the agreement presuppose that contemplation of an increase or an increase would constitute a breach of the dialogue process.

 

(NAN)

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