labour leaders walked away

Labour leaders have been explaining why they walked away from negotiations with government over petroleum and electricity price increases.

Government violated their September 2020 understanding by simultaneously increasing petroleum and electricity tarrifs without reference to Labour, it said.

This was also at a time that a government constituted negotiation committee was sitting.

To make matters worse, government last night bluntly refused to entertain a discussion on the issue of increases in fuel and electricity price, a position labour finds untenable.

“Nothing in the agreement gives government license to embark upon a pain-inducing and life-crippling increase in the pump price of products at this difficult time.

“Indeed, the letter and spirit of the terms and conditions of the agreement presuppose that contemplation of an increase would constitute a breach of the dialogue process.

Labour Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige, was named as the architect of the refusal to discuss the violation of the agreement.

“All efforts to make him (Ngige) see reason failed. Given the tense situation and government’s manifest insensitivity, labour has no option other than a walkout.

“From the foregoing, it is clear that the government is not prepared for a sincere and honest dialogue on finding a lasting solution to the twin issues of the petroleum price increase and electricity tariffs.

Deputy leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Joe Ajaero, lamented that this was happening at a time that the public was losing confidence on the ability of labour leaders to protect the interest of the masses.

He said Labour will restrategize, consult widely, and thereafter restart the meeting hoping to extract the guarantees that will cushion the impact of hard economic times.

Labour said in a statement that government was misdirecting its available options.

“What we reasonably expected was that government would channel its creative energies to deepening stimulus to the appropriate sectors of the economy to kick-start growth.

The statement listed the guarantees which persuaded them to shelve the planned strike of 28 September 2020 as “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.”

It was jointly issued NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC) and signed by their secretaries, Emmanuel Ugboaja for the NLC and his counterpart in the TUC, Musa Lawal Ozigi.

Labour assured Nigerians that it was equal to the task and was not about to sell out.

“We are a credible pan-Nigerian organization committed to protecting the interests of Nigerian workers and the general public.

“We have lost neither our focus nor resolve to act in furtherance of our members or the nation as a whole. We remain committed to this noble cause.”