FG meets Labour over petrol price as NLC, TUC fume

The Federal Government and Organised Labour will meet this evening over the recent hike in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, commonly known as petrol that shocked Labour leaders and Nigerians in the wake of tension created by the September increment.

Affiliates of of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and their Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, counterparts, are already grumbling over the consequences of the new pump price of N170 per  liter of fuel which NLC and TUC have rejected.

In fact, NLC and TUC see the recent increment as a breach of the agreement Organised Labour reached with Federal Government that led to the suspension of the planned nationwide strike and mass protest on the eve of commencement on September 28.

“I am sure that  government officials may have remembered that we only suspended the planned strike for two weeks from September 28. The issues surrounding the last increase in pump price of petrol and electricity tariff are yet to be concluded. Definitely this last increment is a betrayal of trust and understanding”, he said.

Recall that early last week, NLC and TUC, in separate statements, while rejecting the pump price increment, accused government of deceit among others.

NLC, in a statement by the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, warned against pushing workers and Nigerian masses to the wall, saying “The truth is that we would not have been in this precarious situation if government had been alive to its responsibilities. There is a limit to what the citizens can tolerate if this abysmal increases in the price of refined petroleum products and other essential goods and services continue. While we fix our refineries, there are a number of options open to government to stem the tide of high prices of refined petroleum products.

“One is for government to declare a state of emergency in our downstream petroleum sector. As a follow up to this, government should enter into contract refining with refineries closer home to Nigeria. This will ensure that the cost of supplying of crude oil is negotiated away from prevailing international market rate so that the landing cost of refined petroleum products is significantly reduced”.

On its part, TUC, in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Quadri Olaleye and Musa Lawal, respectively, argued: “From all indications, government has again reneged on agreement reached with the organised labour few weeks ago. In few days the various committees involving government and the organised labour will brief labour and civil society and the outcome of that meeting will determine our next line of action.

“We recall that at our meeting government appealed that subsidy removal was the only way out, else the economy will collapse and there would be massive job losses. We agreed with them to save the economy and the jobs.

“If the government claims to have “deregulated” the downstream sector of the oil and gas (which of course is subsidy removal), it therefore means the independent oil marketers are importing petrol at their own cost. Information at our disposal, however, is that no independent marketer is importing fuel, because they cannot access dollars. The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporations (NNPC) is still holding on to that monopoly.

“To make matters worse, it is the NNPC that instructed the new increase and not Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA). What a regime of contradictions! NNPC has become a behemoth. “The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings” It appears this fault must be conquered for us to be free.”

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NLC, TUC suspend nationwide strike, as FG suspends hike in electricity tariff

Nigeria to partner Britain on job creation 

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have suspended the planned nationwide strike and protest that was to commence on Monday, September 28, 2020, over the recent hike in electricity tariff and petrol pump price.

This follows the agreement reached between the Federal Government and the organized labour during the meeting held by both parties which started on Sunday night and dragged on till the early hours of Monday morning.

The disclosure was made by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, through a tweet post on his twitter handle.

In the agreement between the Federal Government and organized labour, the hike in electricity tariff is to be suspended for a period of 2 weeks, while the new pump price of petrol is to remain unchanged.

Both parties agreed to set up a technical committee on Electricity Tariff reforms, comprising Ministries, Agencies, Departments, NLC and TUC, which will work for a duration of 2 weeks with effect from Monday, September 28, 2020, to examine the justification of the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff.

This is due to the conflicting field reports which appear different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC, metering deployment, challenges, timelines for massive rollout.

Electricity tariff increase is suspended for 2 weeks

The FG and the Nigerian Labour Unions have agreed to suspend the electricity tariff increase for a period of two weeks.

Minister of Labour, Ngige, says labour demand will force government to sack workers

The Federal Government and the Nigerian Labour Unions have agreed to suspend the electricity tariff increase for a period of two weeks. This was part of the agreement reached between Labour and the Government as they deliberated to avert a nationwide strike that would have grounded an already deteriorating economy.

While the strike was over two major issues, an increase in electricity charges and fuel price respectively, the decision to call off the strike was based on the suspension of the electricity bills. The following terms of reference underpinned the agreement between Labour and the Government.

Terms of reference for suspension of electricity increase for 2 weeks.

Terms of reference “The Terms of Reference (ToR) are as follows: To examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective Electricity Tariff adjustments.”

  • Both parties are to examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective tariff adjustment
  • To look at the different Electricity Distribution Company (DISCOs) and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate.
  • Examine and advise government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the six million meters.
  • To look into the NERC Act under review with a view to expanding its representation to include organized labour.
  • The Technical sub-committee is to submit its report within two weeks.
  • During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments. “The meeting also resolved that the following issues of concern to Labour should be treated as stand-alone items:
  • The 40% stake of government in the DISCO and the stake of workers to be reflected in the composition of the DISCOs Boards.
  • An all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatization MOU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with Labour represented.
  • That going forward, the moribund National Labour Advisory Council, NLAC, be inaugurated before the end of the year 2020 to institutionalize the process of tripartism and socio dialogue on socio-economic and major labour matters to forestall crisis.

Implications : The decision reached between the government and labour means the service reflective tariff regime which started on September 1, 2020, is effectively suspended. Customers are therefore no longer required to pay the service reflective tariffs and will revert to the previous MYTO tariffs of 2015.

  • By looking at the “different Electricity Distribution Company (DISCOs) and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate” it appears labour might be looking to recalibrating the tariffs for some Discos.
  • According to documents on the tariff order published by the NERC, some Discos have tariffs for residential customers that are as high as N62/kWh while it’s just under N54 for others.
  • Labour could also get involved in determining the veracity of the tariff bands that determines which customers pay what as electricity tariffs.

NLC to go ahead with Monday protest despite court order

NLC to go ahead with Monday protest despite court order

The Nigeria Labour Congress has insisted on going ahead with its planned mass action scheduled for Monday September 28, despite a fresh court order obtained by the Federal Government on Friday September 25, barring them and the Trade Union Congress from embarking on their planned strike. 

The organized labour’s General Secretary, Comrade Emmanuel Ugboaja in a communique addressed to its members told them to come out in large numbers to protest against the increased fuel price and electricity tarrif. 

All National Leadership of affiliates in Abuja were directed to mobile at least 2000 of their members to Unity Fountain, Abuja for the mass rally which takes off at 7am.

Affiliates are also expected to mobilise the same number of members to the NLC Sub-Secretariat, 29, Olajuwon Street, Yaba, Lagos, which is the take-off point for the Lagos action at 7am also.

It is also expected that all Presidents and General Secretaries will lead and identify with their members at the take-off point

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UC,Fuel, electricity price hike: Buhari seeks truce with NLC, and Others

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday set the machinery in motion to avert the strike being planned by organised private labour and the human rights community in reaction to the latest hike in fuel price and electricity tariff. He directed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to dialogue with the labour unions immediately.

The meeting is scheduled for today in Abuja. The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are believed to have already gone far in mobilising workers for the strike aimed at forcing government to reverse last week’s increase of petrol price to N159 per litre and of electricity to over N60 per unit. but TUC insisted last night that government should first revert to the old prices first.

NLC Tasks Federal Government to Revert PMS price to NGN121

There is a popular saying: “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking that created it”. In reaction to the hike in fuel price, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has asked the Federal Government to revert to the N121 old price at which petrol was sold during the lockdown to control COVID -19. The leadership of the NLC rejected the new upward reviewed pricing band for the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol. In a statement that reads: “We demand that the Federal Government reverts to the old price of N121 given during the lockdown associated with COVID-19 pandemic which Nigerians who were mainly confined in their houses hardly enjoyed. “We also renew our call for a national conversation on the management of our oil assets which we insist must be in tandem with the provisions our country’s constitution which clearly mandates that the commanding heights of our national economy must be held by the government in the interest of the citizens of Nigeria,” the NLC said. The President, Ayuba Wabba, stated that the latest increase in the price of petrol was a crass display of complete apathy to the sufferings Nigerians are going through at this time.

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He said: “This latest increase in the price of petrol is indeed a crass display of complete apathy to the sufferings Nigerians are going through at this time. While other countries also going through the blues of the Covid-19 pandemic are reducing taxes, increasing welfare benefits and providing palliatives to their citizens, our own government is reducing interest rates on savings by the poor, increasing taxes and hiking tariffs on essential goods and services. Nigerians have never had it so bad”. Here are a list suggestions that should be adopted if we are serious about this tackling this socio-political and economic quagmire.

1. GET THE REFINERIES WORKING; There is no gainsaying about the fact that the starting point to solving the subsidy regime and fuel price economic puzzle is to fix the refineries. When the refineries are working, subsidies are automatically eliminated and other related freight and landing cost will cease. The government is better off, the citizens are less burdened and the economy enjoys the positive economics of scale that comes with local Transformation of crude to multiple refined products.

2. RAILWAY COMPLETION; The use of fuel is chiefly jeered towards the transportation of human and cargo. Most nations of the world who have managed to escape this cyclical economic glitch of subsidy, have provided the railway as a means of alternative source of movement of humans and goods. The use of effective and durable trains are usually powered by non- premium motor spirit (PMS), unlike most vehicles being used by both private and commercial motorists today. The federal government must expedite actions on the spread and completion of railway projects across the country.

3. BLOCK CORRUPTION AND INEFFICIENCY; An author once said: “Sometimes the easiest way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem”. At the heart of the excruciating effect on the increase in pump price of fuel is corruption. unless and until the hydra-headed monster called corruption is removed, the other associated symptoms of moribund refinery, over-invoicing, inflated import duties, dubious crude swap deals and general bribery and corruption, we will continue to witness the periodic groaning of Nigerians as a result of hike in pump price of fuel which culminates in high cost of living cum industrial unrest. Like President Buhari like say: “If we dont killl corruption, corruption Will kill us”.

4. PAYING WITH CORRUPTION PROCEEDS; The amount of money we see and hear about as recovered proceeds of corruption is mindbogling. The cash both in local and hard currency are enough to ameliorate the plight of the masses, the proceeds must be plugged into the differences of price of PMS and the associated cost of importation. There are also landed properties and other assets scattered all over the globe that can be converted to liquid to foot the bill being transferred to the over- burdened masses. The unending “Abacha loot” that churns out every year is another area to be redirected to correct the fuel price management.

5. INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE; Every single component of the demand side of the Nigerian economy has increased but the purchasing power parity of the average consumer has remained static. From water, electricity, pre-paid tv subscription, general foodstuffs in the market and logistics have all skyrocketed. The average civil servant is disoriented in terms of ability and willingness to demand to for basic needs of Life. The private sector is worse off, most private firms apart from the blue chips pay little to peanuts. We operate an economy that leaves majority of the actors with little or no options to choose from. Before the increase, the average Nigeria worker live a little above penury, with the hike in the pump price of fuel, they are being suffocated. I dare say: ” Nigerians cant breath”, the government must as a matter of urgency, implement an upward review of salaries and wages to assuage the conditions of its citizens.

The time has come for labour leaders to think out of the box, creativity beckons, top-notch thinking caps is required to navigate this water once and for all. Enough of this recurring decimal that does the government and the governed no good. Like Karen Salmansohn, an author and award-winning designer once said: “When you have a solution thinking mindset and choose to focus 80% of your thoughts/words on solutions – you will not only be heading more speedily to long-term success, but you will immediately feel better in the moment”.

NLC, aviation unions threaten to shut down all airports over FG’s concession plans

Labour vows to stall concession of Lagos, Abuja airports

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and aviation unions temporarily shut down airport operations as they protested plans by the Federal Government to concession all the country’s international airports.

In Abuja, the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, said the labour and trade unions will pick a date to completely shut down airport operations across the country if what he described as the obnoxious concession policy is not reversed.

He accused those in power of greed, alleging that they are pushing to concession the airports to their friends and cronies despite the fact that the airports in question are very viable.

He said: “This obnoxious policy will negatively affect our families. The plan to concession is driven by greed and profit by our political elite. How can you say you want to privatise an establishment that is already viable? Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja airports are viable, so why do you want to privatise something that is viable? If you want to make it more efficient, do so by putting competent people. But don’t privatise because you have already calculated how much will come into your pocket.We say no to such an attempt to take over our common assets.

“I am aware that Lagos airport alone can service the entire airports in Nigeria. Let them put the facts on the table, let us engage them; that is what they don’t want to hear.

“We would win this battle, so don’t be deterred. Those in power have already calculated how much will come in from each airport and how much will come into their pockets. When we say we have paucity of revenue, some people want to concession airports, that are very viable. We are going to resist. Over 10 million Nigerian workers will stand in solidarity with the aviation unions to resist this policy.

“They concession our ports and now the workers are languishing because they don’t have social security cover. You work for 30 years and at the end of the day, you won’t get pension or gratuity.

“NLC and TUC will take a date and you will see the number of people that would troop out in protest across the country. This is just a warning to our political elite that our commonwealth cannot be appropriated to family and friends. The airports belong to all of us and we would not allow it to be given to their friends and cronies. If it means bringing our mats and pillows to sleep qt the airports, we would do it until they reverse the policy, we would do it.”

In Lagos, the offices of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) were barricaded as early as 6am on Monday, August 31, as security officers manning the different gates into the agency’s headquarters and other offices were sent away by the union members and the gates were shut with chains and padlock.

Leaders of the four unions, Association of Nigeria Aviation Professionals (ANAP), National Union of Air Transport Employees, (NUATE), Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Pensioners, (NUP), informed members of staff on why the unions have taken the action.

The Secretary-General of NUATE, Ocheme Aba, said the plans to concession would not favour workers, instead it would further impoverish them as there is bound to be job cuts if the concession was allowed to succeed. He also said that the concession process has not been transparent since it started.

The chairman of ATSSSAN, FAAN branch, Ahmed Danjuma described the concession as a one-man project headed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.

According to him, the planned concession was being facilitated clandestinely in connivance with the Infrastructure, Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, while Abdulrazak Saidu of ANAP scribe also stated that the concession so far embarked on in the industry had been marred by controversies.

Similar protests took place in over 22 airports across the country including Kano, Zaria, Markurdi, Owerri, Enugu and many others.
A source within FAAN told Daily Sun that if the situation persists, the unions will shut down operations across the country till the issues are addressed.