NNPC Begs Organised Labour to Give It One Week to Consider Reversing Petrol Price

Organised labour has been urged to grant NNPC one week grace to consider the reversal of petrol price.

NLC and TUC

NLC and TUC

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, on Thursday night reacted to the ultimatum given to it by organised labour.

Recall that Labour had given NNPC one week to reverse petrol price it hiked.

However, the NNPC while reacting, pleaded with Labour to give it one more week to consider its ultimatum.

This is as the National Administrative Council, NAC, of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, will meet on Friday to have a holistic look at the ongoing negotiations with the government.

The organised labour at the meeting with the government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, demanded an immediate reversal of the last increase of fuel price.

Recall that the organized labour had walked out of the meeting with government representatives last week over the same issue, even though the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige had said that there was nothing like walk-out at the meeting, but a normal recess.

At the resumed meeting on Thursday night which entered into early hours of Friday, the NNPC requested for one week to make consultations on the labours insistence for the reversal of the new fuel price increment before discussions could continue.

It was agreed by both the labour and government team that the meeting should be adjourned and to resume on December 7.

Speaking to Vanguard, the Deputy President of the NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero said that it was believed that on December 7 when the parties will continue with the negotiation, the reversal must have been effected.

According to him, “We took one-week adjournment for them to reverse it (fuel increment) for us to begin discussions because the GMD (Group Managing Director) was saying that he can’t just announce it there, that he needs to do consultations.

“Exactly one week will be next week Friday so the following Monday we will reconvene by 5 pm. We insisted on 2 pm, the Minister said 7 pm but we eventually agreed by 5 pm.

“We insisted on reversal for any other talk to place although we have agreed to brief our organs, the NLC NAC is meeting today (Friday) so we are briefing our NAC, we may have to delay other organs after that Monday if they didn’t announce it.

<p class="has-drop-cap has-vivid-cyan-blue-color has-text-color" value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">“That’s why we said we don’t need to be shouting strike….. strike, we need to put our house in order,.”“That’s why we said we don’t need to be shouting strike….. strike, we need to put our house in order,.”

Asked if the management of NNPC consented to labour’s demand for reversal of the fuel increase, he said, “The NNPC GMD asked for the one week, we had wanted it to be announced there.”

At the meeting on Thursday night, President of the NLC Comrade Ayuba Wabba was absent, making it the second consecutive times he was not present at the meeting.

Wabba was absent on the Sunday meeting where the labour team comprising the NLC and the Trade Union Congress, TUC walked out of government in protest of government team’s refusal to reverse the fuel price before the commencement of discussions.

The reason for his absence was not disclosed by his colleagues as at few minutes before 9:00pm when the meeting began.

Before the Thursday night dialogue went behind-closed-doors, the TUC President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye had warned government’s delegation to be sincere with the deliberations to avoid further embarrassment and another deadlocked meeting.

He said , “It will be beneficial when we can agree and disagree constructively on some of the things we have on the table, and have a clear communication even which a layman will understand where we are going. We don’t want this meeting of going front and back every time that is so confusing that we don’t even understand what we are discussing.

“We are here today with an open mind. And if possible, we need to have a lot of recess today but the bottom line is that we must be leaving here today with an agreement”, Olaleye said.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige had in his opening remarks alleged that “agents of darkness had predicted that the meeting will not hold.”

He also said that “it was not really true that anybody walked out on anybody.”

But the Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Ajaero, who stood in for Wabba countered, “We didn’t adjourn peacefully and we didn’t take recess normally.”

Strike Suspension: Labour gave Nigerians death pill, sold out to IMF, World Bank — CSOs

Organised Labour agreeing to suspend strike has been described as death pill for Nigerians and a betrayal of the masses to IMF and World Bank.

The pro-labour civil society organisations, CSOs, on the platform of Joint Action Front, JAF, said this while rejecting labour’s suspension of the planned strike over recent increase in electricity tariff and petrol pump price.

In a terse statement by JAF Secretary, Abiodun Aremu, JAF lamented that by agreeing to “suspend the strike that ought to have started this morning(Monday), organised labour has accepted deregulation of the downstream of the petroleum industry

“It is a death pill on workers and poor the masses. It is Nigeria for sale to IMF and World Bank.”

Updates coming.

VANGUARD

BREAKING: Labour To Proceed With Strike On Monday As Last Ditch Meeting With Reps Ends In Deadlock

The Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, and the Trade Union Congress, TUC, have refused to suspend their plan to embark on a nationwide strike on Monday.

The two unions had resolved to go on strike on Monday to protest against the recent hikes in pump price of petroleum and electricity tariff.

But when they met with the house leadership in Abuja on Sunday, Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house, asked the unions to shelve the plan to give room for negotiations.

Present at the meeting is a three-man team from Labour consisting President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba; President The Trade Union Congress (TUC) Quadri Olaleye and NLC Secretary General, Emma Ugboaja.

Ayuba Wabba, and Quadri Olaleye, condemned the government’s delay in reversing the hikes as demanded.

Speaking after the meeting, Wabba said if the issues are not addressed, “all the actions pronounced will be taken as the notice expires tomorrow”.

He, however, commended the house leadership for its intervention.

“We also told him (Gbajabiamila) how the meeting with federal government went and how the meeting was adjourned and he has promised to also intervene at his own level to see that we don’t inflict more pains on Nigerians,” he said.

“In the course of the discussion, we have also realised that the House of Representatives has done a lot on the issue including recommendations which they have shared mutually.”

On the restraining order from the court, Wabba said the organised labour has not been served with any restraining order from a court in respect to the planned strike, and he asked the federal government not to ambush the unions with any court action.

He however noted that “There is a valid judgement of the federal high court stopping the tariff increase and that judgement is still subsisting.”

During the meeting between labour and the lawmakers, Wabba said the proposed strike was in the interest of Nigerians.

To counter Wabba, Gbajabiamila explained why Labour should not go on strike in the interest of Nigerians.

Gbajabiamila, who was at the meeting with Chairman of the House Committee on Labour, Mohammed Wudil and Deputy House Leader, Peter Akpatason, said shutting down economic activities through a debilitating strike will hurt more citizens the Organised Labour is seeking to protect.

He said there could be a different way to arrive at the same result as the legislature and Labour are on the same page, pleading for more time.

Gbajabiamila, however, offerred labour some palliatives which he said would be included in the proposed 2021 budget.

He explained that the budget would soon be presented to the National Assembly, stressing that some palliatives were being considered to cushion the effects of increase in electricity tariff and fuel price hike.

The palliatives, according to the speaker, includes distribution of food items, reduction of taxes on minimum wage and payment of some special allowances.

Others are involvement in ownership of housing programmes through mortgage and distribution of special buses to public institutions which run on auto gas.

Gbajabiamila said that the palliatives would go a long way to assuage the suffering of Nigerians.

He said the lawmakers would also make provision in the budget to tackle the eight million deficit of meters to enable Nigerians to access them.

Gbajabiamila, who described estimated billing as a scam, said: “I have never heard it anywhere in the world, so if we may have to provide for the deficit, we will have to do that.”

He appealed to labour to suspend the planned strike, saying embarking on industrial action at this critical time would not augur well for the citizenry.

“You know, you cannot go on strike at this time, if you go on strike, the people you think you are protecting will be at the receiving end, we share your philosophy regarding workers’ rights.

“We know what Nigerians are going through, our position on electricity billing is obvious, the only thing now is to continue to talk, I am concerned about the people out there.

“Shutting down the markets, banks and other places of work is my worry, I am concerned about the people,” he said.

Gbajabiamila said that there was the need for every Nigerian to be properly metered in order to capture the true cost, adding that the lawmakers would consider metering in the 2021 budget.

The national industrial court in Abuja had granted an order of interim injunction restraining the labour unions from embarking on the strike pending the hearing and determination of a motion before it.

But Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC general secretary, said in a statement that the unions will go ahead with the strike and asked members to mobilise for a protest.

The Organised Labour in Lagos State has said all sectors would be shut from Monday.

He said airports, banks, and offices would not be allowed to function.

Deputy Vice President, Nigeria Labour Congress, Amaechi Asogwuni, spoke at a news conference on Sunday.

“No airport will be in operation in Nigeria; banks are not expected to function, so no business owners should risk himself, for Nigerian workers have taken that decision”, NAN quoted him as saying.

“We are the workers and we are withdrawing our services; we have the right to do so because protests are our constitutional right. And I believe we will enforce it; schools shall remain closed until this action ends.”

The labour leader appealed to Nigerians to join the protest.

He reminded them that it was part of their quota to democracy.

On the increase in petrol price, Asogwuni said the federal government should have engaged the organised labour and other stakeholders.

“The government did not do that at a time it ought to; it failed in its duty to engage labour before time. On the issue of electricity, the government had earlier had an interaction with labour in Kano and we discouraged it from proceeding.”

24 HRS TO STRIKE: Showdown looms as Labour says court orders are rumours

Ayuba Wabba

Amid uncertainty over the planned nationwide strike and mass protest against the recent hike in prices of electricity tariff and petrol pump price scheduled for tomorrow, Organised Labour, has dismissed court orders aimed at stopping the strike.

Saying it does not obey rumours, Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and President of National Union of Construction, Civil Engineering, Furniture Workers, Amechi Asugwuni, said traditional allies have been mobilised ahead of tomorrow.

This came as the umbrella body for private sector employers in the country, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association, NECA, warned of dire consequences for the nation’s struggling economy should it be disrupted by a national strike.

Recall that last Thursday’s meeting between representatives of the Federal Government and Labour leaders ended in a deadlock.

Affiliates of the two Labour centres in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, have been mobilizing workers for compliance.

Total compliance

While some of the unions have already written to their employers for total compliance to avoid the wrath of Organised Labour, others wrote directly to their members, urging them not to be used to sabotage what they described as a national struggle.

A circular by its General Secretary, Adidi Adodo, said: “ISSSAN enjoins all members to participate in the planned strike being convened by organised labour in NLC and TUC and Civil Society Organisations as part of the struggle to end impunity, which has been displayed through the irresponsible increase in the price of petroleum products and that of electricity tarrif.”

Mobilization

NLC and TUC had since Tuesday directed their state councils to intensify the mobilization of workers in the states and other Nigerians for the strike and mass action.

According to him, “all affiliates of NLC and TUC have been directed to mobilise members and since early in the week and up till this evening ( lastFriday). Circulars are being issued to members across the country and sectors to fully comply. As of today, nothing has changed and I can tell you that nothing will change between today and Monday. So, workers are fully mobilised. As of 8 pm Friday, we have not been served any court order. We are only hearing of one unknown court order and nobody obeys rumour. Nothing changes, the strike will still take place.”

Commercial activities

As part of the efforts to achieve total shut down of commercial activities in the country, Labour leaders have also reached out to Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, especially pro-Labour CSOs, under the umbrella of Joint Action Front, JAF, market women, traders, commercial bus drivers, tricycle operators, commercial motorcycle operators, community-based organisations, and faith-based organisations among others.

As part of its mobilisation across the country, JAF held a public symposium last Friday in Lagos.

The theme of the symposium was “National Strikes and Mass Actions Commencing September 28: Issues and Way forward.”

According to him, participants were “unanimous that enough is enough and that Nigerians must stand up and fight for their rights and freedom from oppression and deprivation.”

Consequences

Meanwhile, NECA has warned of dire consequences for the nation’s struggling economy should it be disrupted by the national strike.

According to him,”with the planned strike by the labour movements, we believe this is coming at a very wrong time. The economy is bleeding. It is faced with a looming recession, an astronomical rise in unemployment rate, reduced purchasing power, rising inflationary rate, rising cost of living, and unabated insecurity among others, making the country’s misery index worrisome. The economy is just coming out of total lockdown and businesses and individuals are not in the right place for survival.

N2 Trillion

“The estimated cost of any industrial strike to any economy is always devastating, not to mention the already challenging situation the economy is grabbling with. This would further have a serious negative effect on every sector of the economy- health, education, transportation, foreign investment, stock market, trade, etc. The country would be losing nothing less than N2trillion every day to strike action.

“The tethering economy cannot afford another ‘downing of tools’ by workers as the little gains made as a result of the gradual ease of lockdown might be lost, leading to an acceleration of job losses and other issues. We, therefore, call on both government and the labour movements to consider the survival of the economy and welfare of the workers at this time and reach an early compromise. Businesses are still struggling to recover from the negative impact of COVID-19. It is a known fact that the myriads of socio-economic issues arising from the pandemic are still with us. Government can revert to the old tariff while engaging the unions.

“In light of the consequences of the strike on the economy, we believe in avoidance as the management and control technique for the strike. While we advocate for total deregulation of the oil and gas sector, we call for wide consultation with critical stakeholders in reaching conclusions, as this will go a long way in resolving issues. This can best be achieved with good industrial relations. NECA calls on the federal government and Labour to observe the principle of social dialogue in resolving these issues. We hope Nigeria would not be made to pass through another national strike, which is avoidable and needless.”

Court order

Last Friday, Justice Ibrahim Galadima of the National Industrial Court, Abuja, issued a restraining order against the labour unions following an ex parte application by the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami ,SAN.

The order was on the heels of a similar one in favour of a group, Peace and Unity Ambassadors Association, last Thursday.

The judge ordered that both the NLC and TUC be served the new court order within seven days.

The federal government and the AGF are the plaintiffs in the suit marked NICN/ABJ/257/2020. The application was signed by Malami.

Source : Vanguardngr.com

Sept 28 Strike: Nigerian govt, Labour meeting postponed

The meeting between the Federal Government and the Organised Labour over the hike in fuel price and electricity tariff has been postponed till Monday September 28.

Labour unions had fixed the same day to commence a nationwide strike.

Both parties met in Abuja on Thursday but did not reach an agreement.

Ayuba Wabba, President of the Nigeria Congress (NLC), confirmed that discussions would continue.

“The discussions will continue on Monday, by 3 p.m,” NAN quoted him as saying

Labour unions had fixed the same day to commence a nationwide strike.

However, the National Industrial Court has granted an interim injunction restraining the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) from embarking on an industrial action

Justice Ibrahim Galadima granted the order pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice

He restrained the unions, their officers, affiliates, privies from preventing workers and other Nigerians from accessing their offices.

Galadima ordered the Inspector General of Police and the Director General, Department of State Services (DSS), to protect workers at offices from harassment by NLC and TUC.