Strike looms as labour stages walk out on government, insists on N160 per litre
Labour leaders, yesterday, staged a walkout on the Federal Government’s team at the Banquet Hall of Aso Villa, Abuja insisting on the reversal of petrol price to N160 per litre.
The General Secretary of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Emmanuel Ugboajah, said the walkout became inevitable as the government team was not ready to discuss the reversal but wanted to discuss the palliative issue.
“At the beginning of the meeting, we insisted that the thing that is causing palliative should be discussed first but the government felt otherwise. We cannot discuss palliative when the petrol price has been moved to N170 per litre while discussions are still ongoing,” Ugboajah said.
When asked about the next step that the NLC would take, he said: “We are going back to our people to report what transpired here.”
Labour stated that it never endorsed a deregulation policy that is anchored on fuel importation.
Ugboajah told The Guardian at the hall last night that labour agreed that the nation’s refineries should be rehabilitated to boost local refining. He lamented that almost eight weeks after the negotiations, the Federal Government has not shown any commitment to the items that were agreed upon.
“We never supported deregulation that is anchored on price increment. Our minimum request is that the Federal Government must revert to N160. We agreed that the refineries should be made to work. We have not seen any work in that regard. Also, we have seen the NNPC maintaining a stranglehold on importation.”
On his part, the President of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye, said things were going out of hand if urgent steps are not taken.
“It seems the government wants to create a crisis when none exists. We have been coming here to ensure the hardship on the people is reduced. I want to say that we are not happy. Government is showing a high level of insincerity with us. I receive a lot of text messages from Nigerians abusing us. We find it difficult to move freely. I believe that the government is sponsoring some people to attack us. Some of our people stayed away from this meeting because they are afraid of backlash.
“Academic staffers have been on strike. We set up a committee for more than two months and nothing has happened. A month to the end of the year, nothing has been done. If today’s meeting does not solve the problem, we will mobilise ourselves and stage a walkout at the meeting. I hope today’s meeting will be productive.”
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the meeting was supposed to have been held in October but for the #EndSARS protests that rocked the nation last month. He said the Federal Government was ready to begin rolling out palliatives as from today.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said the government was already working on some of the agreed areas such as reduction of tariff on the importation of cars from 35 per cent to 10 per cent.