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N145: NLC to Go on Strike Wednesday

Ayuba Wabba
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The emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the Nigeria Labour Congress on Friday took a decision to embark on “total strike” on Wednesday to protest the increase in the fuel pump price from N86 and N86.50k to N145 per litre by the Federal Government.

The meeting, which was also attended by all the major civil society organisations based in Abuja, was chaired by the President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba.

The meeting, which was held at the Olaitan Oyerinde Hall of the Labour House, Abuja, started at about 4pm and ended by 5:25 pm.

A senior labour leader, who confided in one of our correspondents, said that leaders of the NLC took a unanimous decision to condemn the price increase and mobilise workers for a nationwide protest on Wednesday to prevail on the government to reverse the action.

The source said that the NEC decided to fix the planned action for Wednesday to give a two-day period to the government to reverse the increase which they described as harsh and inimical to the existence of the poor Nigerians.

However, the President of the NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, told journalists shortly after the meeting that the decision of the NEC would be made known at a press conference on Saturday.

Wabba said the decision of the NEC would be reconciled with that of the Trade Union Congress.

He said, “Comrades, we have had our meeting, but we cannot talk to you now. We have a press briefing for tomorrow at 12noon. We will address the press jointly with the TUC and our position will be made known to the media and the country.”

A source at the meeting said the decision to embark on a nationwide strike was not opposed by any of the labour leaders.

The source said that the unionists expressed frustration that the President, who they supported in the last general elections, did not accord them the expected respect.

The source said the members lamented that the way the pump price was increased without consultation with labour showed that the government did not have any regard for workers.

According to the source, members recalled that in spite of the fact that a former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, provided the statistics and other reasons for the increase, and the former President Goodluck Jonathan invited them to a dinner where he spoke to them, the move was turned down.”

The source said, “We told you that the meeting was going to be smooth and short. The fact is that the people are not happy.

“The NEC is even saddened by the way the increase was announced; there is no respect, no consultation. Look, this was not the case in 2012 under Jonathan. I remember on that night of the dinner, Okonjo-Iweala did her presentation showing us her statistics and the President spoke to us. Yet in spite of that we turned him down.

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“But in this case, there is no regard for anybody at all yet we worked for this government.

“If you are insisting that the meeting was stormy, how come that it did not last for a long time? The fact is that after the introduction which took some time, the NEC tabled the issue and a decision was taken unanimously to embark on a national strike on Wednesday. It is a total strike not a warning strike.”

TUC gives FG five days ultimatum

On its part, the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria has issued a five-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet with labour on the increase in fuel price to N145 or face industrial action.

While addressing journalists after its National Executive Council meeting in Lagos on Friday, the President of the congress, Bobboi Kaigama, said the congress had begun plans to protest against the petrol price increase.

He stated that the TUC rejected the hike in price of petrol from N86.5 to N145 per litre and demanded revert in price.

Kaigama said, “The NEC-in session rejected in its entirety the astronomical increase in the price of petrol from N86.5 per litre to N145 per litre and demanded that the government should revert to the old price regime with immediate effect.

“The NEC-in-session gave the Federal Government up till Wednesday, May 16, 2016, to invite the leadership of labour for discussion aimed at determining the appropriate way forward.

“The NEC-in-session also directed the leadership of the TUC to interface with the NLC and the civil society allies to work out plans that would be put in place to protest the insensitive fuel price hike should the government fail to meet on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.”

Speaking at the sidelines of the press briefing, the TUC Deputy President, Mr. Sunday Salako, said that labour was not consulted before the fuel price increase but was only informed of the government’s decision at the meeting with the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu.

He said, “We were not consulted. If we were consulted, we would have made our input. If there is need for any deviation from the old price, all stakeholders will sit down and we will discuss to fashion a way out.

“There is a difference between a meeting and a briefing. What was done was a briefing. You invite the people and sit them down and read out what you have prepared. Is that a meeting?”


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