• en

Nigeria’s Organised Labour Threatens Strike without Notice If Petrol Price Rises To N720/Litre 

Oil and gas suppliers decry high diesel price, want 7.5% tax withdrawn.

Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Monday, warned that its members would commence a nationwide strike without any formal notice if the federal government approved another increase in the pump price of petrol without conclusion of ongoing negotiations.

NLC President, Joe Ajaero, gave the warning at the ongoing African Alliance of Trade Unions meeting in Abuja.

On same day, National Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA) called for the removal of the 7.5 per cent tax on diesel fuel, stressing that it is contributing to increases in the overall price of petrol in the country.

NOGASA also urged the federal government to act urgently to halt the consistent slide in the value of the naira to curb the rising petrol price.

Oil marketers had at the weekend disclosed that the price of petrol would rise to between N680/litre and N720/litre in the coming weeks should the dollar continue to trade around N950 to a dollar at the parallel market. The oil marketers had also revealed that scarcity of forex was frustrating the importation of petrol, adding that the official Investors and Exporters’ official forex window wasn’t meeting their demand for the greenback.

Reacting to the development, Ajaero said it was incumbent on the federal government to change “those bad economic policies that make workers’ wages next to nothing.”

The NLC president stated, “As we’re here now, they’re contemplating on increasing the pump price of petroleum products. But the Minister of Labour for some time now, will only go to Ministry of Justice to come up with injunction to hold the hands of labour not to respond. They have started floating ideas of a likely increase in the price of petroleum products.

“But let me say this. Nigerian workers will not give any strike notice if we have not addressed the consequences of the last two increases of fuel pump price, and we wake up from asleep to hear that they have tampered with the fuel pump price again.”

Ajaero further said, “I want to plead with government that those bad economic policies that makes our wages next to nothing should be checked.

“If you check those policies that lead to inflation and devaluation of the currency, we will be comfortable even where we are. If the naira is at par with dollar today, we will ask you to leave minimum wage at 30,000; if inflation is checked to zero, we will ask you to leave things the way they are.

“But inflation is flying and by the admittance of the National Bureau of Statistics, we have over 133 million Nigerians that are multi-dimensionally poor. I think these are the issues government should address. If we go for wage increase tomorrow, the inflation that will follow suit will destroy it.”

On the issue of undue harassment of labour unions by the Police, Ajaero said, “The Nigeria Police, the Inspector General is now performing the duties of the Ministry of Labour. The duty of Ministry of Labour includes addressing the issue both inter and intra union disputes.

“It is not within the purview of the Inspector General of Police to go into that area. And I think there is need for the Ministry of Labour to educate the police to tell them that they don’t have the right to usurp its functions. If they do that, the Ministry of Labour will go into extinction and there’ll be no basis for Minister of Labour to remain there.

“We say it is legal and we demand an apology from the IG of police for arresting or even contemplating to arrest the president of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, for whatever reason, at the eve of the election.

“It is unheard of in the history of this country. And never again should that be entertained. Nigeria Police against Nigerian workers, we will not waste time too much to their offices. Let them use the same gun that was bought with the workers’ tax to engage us?”

National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, had said the price of petrol was now driven by the fluctuations in forex, hence, Nigerians should expect a hike in petrol price in the coming days.

Ukadike said, “So now that the dollar is hitting N910 to N940, and approaching N1, 000, you should expect to buy PMS at the rate of N750/litre.

“Nigerians should brace for a price regime of between N680 to N720 if the exchange rate stays around N910 to N950/$, but the price is going to hit N750 once the dollar rises to N1, 000.”

Oil, Gas Suppliers Decry High Diesel Price, Want 7.5% Tax Withdrawn

Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), yesterday, called for the removal of the 7.5 per cent tax on diesel, stressing that the tax is contributing to the overall price of petrol in the country.

Speaking during a briefing in Abuja, National President of NOGASA, Mr. Benneth Korie, urged the federal government to act urgently to halt the steady slide in the value of the naira to curb the rising fuel price.

Korie maintained that the pump price would likely rise in the coming days due to the significant fall in the value of the naira to the dollar.

He stated, “Today as we speak, diesel is going for N920 to N950 per litre. Before now, it was N600 plus, and then the government introduced tax on the product. We will suggest that the government should take action on the dollar issue, otherwise, diesel and petrol and other petroleum products will go up more than what you are seeing today.

“The only way out is for the government to take serious action by calling the bureau de change operators and the bank managing directors to sit down with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and come out with one uniform price for the naira against the dollar.

“Leaving it freely to be determined by the market will spell doom for the country. The way it is going, it will destroy a lot of things for us.”

Calling for the immediate repair of Nigeria’s refineries, Korie argued that getting the refineries back on stream will help reduce petrol pump prices. He maintained that Nigerian engineers could fix the country’s refining facilities if given the chance.

The NOGASA chief executive said the state of the road infrastructure in the country was adversely affecting the lifespan of trucks of members, stressing that they are importing trucks that wouldn’t last.

According to him, there is a limit to what the mechanics can fix when the roads are very bad and trucks break down very frequently.

Korie expressed optimism that once the road infrastructure was improved, the rate of trucks importation would drastically reduce, and the dollars used for the importation would be saved for other things. He urged the authorities to immediately fix the refineries.

Korie said, “We have Nigerian engineers and they should be saddled with fixing the refineries. I believe Nigerian engineers can fix the problems and with the right machinery.

“Every time, billions of naira is spent on repairing the refineries by foreigners, now see where it has gotten us. One of the factors responsible for the problem we are facing today is that the government removed subsidies before fixing the refineries.”

Korie explained that many NOGASA members were dying through accidents and kidnapping, due to bad roads. He urged the authorities to repair major trunks in the country.

He stated, “The route from Warri to Abuja is a no-go area. Our trucks are at a standstill, and our drivers are being kidnapped and killed. Our trucks are vandalised and the products are taken out from them and this is a waste of money. We had this same problem last year in the same place, yet nothing has been done.”

He lamented that the business environment had become very inclement, with several filling stations shutting down due to high cost of operation.

Korie said the cost of repairing vehicles and losses in the course of delivering petrol was becoming unbearable.

He explained, “If you go round, you’ll see a lot of filling stations are closing. If you were trading with N10 million before, forget about it. Someone who was trading with N100 million, you could buy 1 million litre of petrol in a month to sell but now, with N100 million you can only buy 150,000 litres in a month. You’ll also incur the same expenses as when selling one million litres in a month.”

He said before the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) started talking about tax on diesel, the price was about N600 per litre. But, suddenly, it jumped to between N920 and N950 due to the introduction of the new tax regime for the product.

The NOGASA boss also called for urgent intervention on the dollar rate issue, which, he said, would destroy a lot of things if government did not intervene.

“There is a need for Nigeria to deploy local content. We have qualified, good engineers, get them together, let them go to these refineries,” he suggested.

Onyebuchi Ezigbo and Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

Follow us on: