The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, National Executive Council, NEC, on Tuesday, endorsed and ratified the decision of Congress’ Central Working Committee, CWC, to declare a nationwide indefinite strike and mass protest from September 28, should government fail to reverse the recent hikes in electricity tariff and petrol pump price.
This came as Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, extended its seven-day strike notice of the hikes to September 28, to tally with NLC’s deadline for a united labour action against the increase in electricity tariff and petrol pump price.
At a meeting held at Labour House Abuja, the NEC ordered the 36 NLC state’s councils and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, to intensify mobilization of workers and other Nigerians, faulting the timing of the increments.
Recall that the NLC ‘s CWC had last Wednesday threatened to shut down the economy if the federal government refused to reverse the recent hike in petrol price and electricity tariff before September 28.
Speaking after the NEC’s meeting, President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, advised the federal government to, in the interest of industrial peace and social order, listen to cries of workers and other suffering Nigerians and rescind the increases, warning that failure to meet the demands would made the planned strike and mass protest inevitable.
According to him, “The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress comprising members of the National Administrative Council, President and General Secretary of members of the affiliate unions and our state council chairpersons and secretaries of the 36 states and FCT met today (yesterday) and resolved as follows:
“NEC resolved to reject in its entirety the issue of hike in electricity tariffs by almost 100 per cent as well as the fuel price increase in the name of full deregulation. This decision is premised on the fact that these twin decisions alongside other decisions of government including the increase of VAT by 7.5 per cent, numerous charges being charged by commercial banks on depositors without any explanations will further impoverish Nigerian workers and citizens, including their families.
“Therefore, this increase, coming in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not only ill-timed, but it is also counterproductive. NEC also observed that the privatization of the electricity sub-sector seven years down the line has not yielded any positive result.
“Whereas the entire privatization process, the entire sector was sold at about N400 billion, we are also surprised that government within the last four years injected N1.5 trillion over and above the amount that accrued from this important asset.
”Therefore, NEC came to the conclusion that the entire privatization process has failed and the electricity hike is actually a process of continuous exploitation of Nigerians.
”On the issue of the refineries and also the increase in the pump price of PMS, this particular issue had been on the table for more than three decades and the argument had not changed.
“Whether it is the name of full deregulation or subsidy removal, what is obvious is that it is fuel price hike and this has further eroded the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage because it has spiral effects which include the high costs of food and services and the reduction in the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians.
“In light of all of these, NEC thought that the issue of deregulation would be a continuous exploitation if it is import-driven.
“While demanding that our three refineries should be made to work optimally and then, it would benefit Nigerians, NEC also concluded that government has business in doing business because the primary purpose of governance is about the security and welfare of the people and if in other countries, governments are maintaining refineries, and they are working optimally for the benefit of the people, Nigeria cannot be an exception.
“In the light of these, NEC decided to endorse the two-week ultimatum given to the federal government to reverse those obnoxious decisions and also pronounce that the action proposed by the Central Working Committee is hereby endorsed by the NEC that 28th of September should be the date that those decisions should be challenged by the Nigerian workers, our civil society allies and other labour centre’s.”
TUC extends strike notice deadline
On its part, TUC in a statement by its President and Secretary, Quadri Olaleye and Musa-Lawal Ozigi, respectively, said TUC “after an exhaustive meeting held to review its mobilisation strategies on the forthcoming strike to protest fuel hike and electricity tariff increase, resolved that the Congress is going to work in collaboration with its sister Labour Centre, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Civil Society allies to execute the strike.
“Consequent upon this, the ultimatum which should expire by midnight of today 22nd September, 2020 has been shifted to 28th September, 2020 for effective and maximum effect. We want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians, especially those in the informal sector to bear with us while the industrial action lasts.
“There is no need for the pains we bear. It is a needless one. They ask us to tighten our belts while they loosen theirs. Services are not rendered yet we are compelled to pay estimated bills. You will recall that this government during its electioneering campaigns in 2014 told the world there is nothing like subsidy.
“We were told that they will build refineries, but all that is history now. We run a mono-economy and any hike in fuel automatically will have adverse effect on us yet successive governments tow that path because they are not creative.
“As at today, about eight states are yet to commence the payment of new minimum wage and its consequential adjustment even though the president signed it into law on April 18, 2019. We have written letters to the governors and also engaged them in dialogue but all to no avail. Sometimes we wonder if these people have conscience at all.
“The Congress hereby appeals to all Nigerians to get ready for the unprecedented mass action against corruption, obnoxious policies, rape and other violent offences, breach of Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, unemployment, etc.
“We also call on the USA, UK, Germany, Spain, etc. to support our struggle by placing indefinite VISA ban on our political leaders whose stock in trade is to loot and impoverish the masses and the country. We can no longer take it. Enough is enough!”