ORGANISED Labour has accused the federal government of not being prepared for honest dialogue in finding a lasting solution to the hike in petroleum price and electricity tariffs, adding that the government violated the understanding reached by both parties before the suspension of the planned September strike.
It would be recalled that the organized labour had staged a walk-out at their meeting with the government late on Sunday night, hinting that they will not attend subsequent meetings organized by the government until the recent increase in petroleum pump price was reversed.
Speaking to journalists on Monday in Abuja, deputy president of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said the planned strike was suspended based on certain understanding which has now been violated by the government, even while its members were trying to be patriotic.
Reacting to the impression that Nigerians have lost faith in the labour movement in the country, he said: “We didn’t buy it with money, and we will equally not buy back their confidence with money,” he said.
Also, in a separate joint press statement issued by the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, the unions stated the government had shown bad faith in their agreement.
In the statement signed by the general secretary of the NLC, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja and the secretary-general of the TUC, Comrade Musa Lawal Ozigi, the unions said the terms and conditions for putting the protest on hold were clearly spelt out in the memorandum of understanding signed with the government.
“We have invited you here today (Monday) to keep you informed about the breakdown in dialogue between the government and organized labour. Some of you who were present at yesterday’s meeting at the State House witnessed first-hand the government’s act of bad faith leading to our walk-out.
“However, for the benefit of those who were not at the State House meeting, we find it prudent to restate the developments as they unfolded. You may recall that following our notice to the government to protest the increase in the pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, the government reached out to labour not to proceed on its nation-wide protest that was slated for September 28, 2020.
“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, the government/labour committee was set up to review the increase in electricity tariff. Nothing in the agreement gives government licence to embark upon a pain-inducing and life-crippling increase in the pump price of products at this difficult time,” part of the statement read.
Ajaero said that organized labour has not considered the option of industrial action following the walk out of the federal government during a meeting to resolve the contending issues surrounding the increases in petroleum price and electricity tariff.
He added that the walkout by the aggrieved union leaders could mean an expression of anger or a means to ease building tensions to reconvene on a later date, given the government’s insincerity to the issues under contention.
Recall that the petrol price has increased by about four times in 2020. It had risen from N121.50–N123.50 per litre in June and N140.80-N143.80 in July and N148-N150 in August.
Meanwhile, the product presently sells between N165 and N168 per litre after the Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, a subsidiary of the federal government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, increased the ex-depot price of petrol from N147.67 per litre to N155.17 per litre for this month,” he said