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Nigeria’s Labour Unions Resume Talks with Federal Government over Petrol Subsidy Removal 

They plan to insist on the implementation of all agreements reached with the federal government’s representatives two weeks ago.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) will resume talks on Monday with the federal government over steps being taken to alleviate the suffering associated with the withdrawal of fuel subsidy by the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

TUC and NLC had after meeting with representatives of government at the State House, Abuja, a fortnight ago, suspended its planned nationwide indefinite strike action to protest last month’s withdrawal of fuel subsidy.
A top official of NLC confirmed on Sunday that the meeting would hold as scheduled at 4pm, at the office of the Chief of Staff, inside the State House.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the labour centres (both NLC and TUC) would insist on the implementation of all the agreements reached with the federal government’s representatives two weeks ago.
According to him, “We will not budge or shift ground on all the issues already contained in the agreement we signed the last tme we met with government.”
Labour and government had at a meeting on June 6 arrived at a seven-point resolution at the end of a negotiation meeting between the federal government, TUC and NLC, held at the conference room of the Chief of Staff at the State House, Abuja.
The resolutions in the form of a communiqué were signed by six members of the negotiating team, including President of NLC, Joe Ajaero; President of TUC, Festus Osifo; Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms. Kachollom S. Daju; and then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila (now Chief of Staff to the Presdent).
According to the communiqué, the agreements are that “the NLC to suspend the notice of strike forthwith to enable further consultations.
“The TUC and the NLC to continue the on-going engagements with the federal government and secure closure on the resolutions above.
“The labour centres and the federal government to meet on June 19, 2023, to agree on an implementation framework.”
The communiqué further read, “Following the engagements between the federal government, TUC and the NLC, with the intervention of the Speaker, House of Representatives to resolve the disputes that arose from the withdrawal of subsidy on PMS, the following resolutions were reached:
“The federal government, the TUC and the NLC to establish a joint committee to review the proposal for any wage increase or award and establish a framework and timeline for implementation.
“The federal government, the TUC and the NLC to review World Bank-financed cash transfer scheme and propose inclusion of low-income earners in the program.
“The federal government, the TUC and the NLC to revive the CNG conversion program earlier agreed with labour centres in 2021 and work out detailed implementation and timing.
“The labour centres and the federal government to review issues hindering effective delivery in the education sector and propose solutions for implementation.
“The labour centres and the federal government to review and establish the framework for completion of the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries.
“The federal government to provide a framework for the maintenance of roads and expansion of rail networks across the country.
“All other demands submitted by the TUC to the federal government will be assessed by the joint committee.”
Tinubu had on May 29, while giving his speech after his inauguration at Eagles Square in Abuja, declared that fuel subsidy regime was gone for good, which led to increase in fuel price by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC).
That had elicited immediate reaction from both NLC and TUC, which claimed necessary consultations were not made by government before removing the fuel subsidy.
The National Economic Council (NEC), chaired by Vice President Kashim Shettima, had last week proposed palliatives for workers and vulnerable groups in the country, to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal.
Bauchi State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, who disclosed this, had said the council considered recommendations from the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to pay N702 billion as cost of living allowance to civil servants as part of the intervention plans.
Mohammed had also announced the setting up of a committee by NEC to work out, within two weeks, modalities for organising and distributing the palliatives. He noted that the council also discussed the possibility of obtaining funds from the World Bank and London partners to implement the programme of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicles in the country as part of measures to bring down the price of fuel.

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