The organised Labour has yesterday insisted that come September 28, there is no going back on the industrial action unless the federal Government cave to their demand of reverting back the fuel and electricity prices to status co. The Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade union Congress (TUC) reiterated their position while having an expanded consultation with the federal government representatives at the Old Banquet Hall of the state House, Abuja.
Earlier, the NLC had given the federal government two weeks ultimatum to reverse the price hike else they will opt for industrial action comes September 28.
Meanwhile, during the yesterday meeting, the federal government was expected to unveil its palliative plans, however, the government officials failed to present any tangible plan handy to the table to cushion the pain inflicted by the hike to Nigerians.
One of the government officials said the administration of President Buhari in on a crossroad and therefore still looking for a better way forward.
In his statement, “The fact is that it is practically impossible to reverse the increase in petrol price because that will amount to reintroducing subsidy and our lenders, the international community will not take it lightly,”
Consequently, after a heated debate, the meeting between the labour and the government official ended up in a deadlock.
On one hand, the government said it would come up with the plan that would cushion the effect though was yet to be presented; the organised labour said the price hike must be reversed.
Those in the meeting on behalf of the federal government were; Mr Boss Mustapha, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN.
While on the labour side were; the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye led Nigerian workers for the negotiation.
Wabba said that Labour was the only organisation that is pan-Nigeria, whether social economy or labour issues were to try to proactively engage labour and have its perspective.
His statement which partly reads, “We are here to continue with the dialogue that started last week.
“As you are aware, after the dialogue, we were able to update all our members.
“We are here to find a lasting solution to the perennial issue of the twin challenges of the increase in pump price in the name of deregulation and also the issue of electricity tariff increase, which we have explained the impact on Nigerian workers, but importantly the larger Nigerian society.
“The last time we were here, we also had a lot of discussion about what we expect that should have been done…
“All of us could recall that in the analogy we gave in the last meeting, this particular issue started in 1988 under Babangida under the name of deregulation or subsidy removal.
“I think the argument has been the same – people want to see a reduction in those prices, which will then improve the lives of Nigerians, particularly workers.
“Clearly, part of the challenges is that this new increase has also reduced our purchasing power and eroded the gains that we have been able to make with the minimum wage, whereas we speak, many states are yet to implement,” he said.
However, the SGF in his comment stated that President Buhari-led administration meant well for Nigerians and will not do anything that will subject them to hardship.
According to him, the deregulation of the petroleum sector was long overdue and something must be done to save the country.
He called on the labour to instead demand what government can do to cushion the effect rather than asking what is impossible.
However, the Industrial Court had on Thursday gave an interim injunction restraining the NLC and the TUC and their affiliates from embarking on Industrial action.
The order was given by Justice Ibrahim Galadima, who said the directive must be respected pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.
Justice Galadima made the order in response to an ex-parte application filed by the Incorporated Trustees of Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association through their counsel, Sunusi Musa.