NLC/TUC With Vice-President Osinbajo

The scheduled plannednationwide industrial action by the organized labour in Nigeria over the recenthike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price in the country has beensuspended for two weeks.

 Sen.  Christ Ngige, Minister of Labourand Employment said this while reading a joint communique on the resolution ofthe Trade Dispute between the Federal Government and the organised Labour onMonday in Abuja.

 News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that theNigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had threatenedto embark on industrial action over the Federal Government’s refusal to reversethe hike in electricity tariff and fuel pump price on Monday, Sept. 28.

 NAN recalls that the removal of the subsidyhad led to an increase in electricity tariff from about N30.23 to about N62.33per kwh, while the price of petrol was increased from about N145 to about N161per litre.

 Ngige said the resolution reached with theorganised labour was an outcome of a fruitful deliberation.

 According to him, on the issue of electricitytariff reforms, the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprisingMinistries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC, which will work for a durationof two weeks effective from Monday, Sept. 28.

 “The committee is to examine thejustifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of thebasis for the new cost-reflective tariff.

“The technical committeemembership included Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of State Labour and Employment,as chairman, Mr Godwin Jedy-Agba, Minister of State Power, Mr James Momoh,Chairman National Electricity Regulatory Commission.

 “Others were Mr Ahmad Rufai Zakari, SA to MrPresident on Infrastructure, Dr Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Member, NLC, Mr JoeAjaero NLC, Mr Chris Okonkwo, TUC and a representative of DISCOS.”

The minister said thecommittee should also look at the different Electricity Distribution Company(DISCOs) and their different electricity tariff ‘vis-à-vis NERC’s order andmandate.

 Ngige, on the issue of the downstream sectorderegulation, said all parties agreed on the need to expand the local refiningcapacity of the nation to reduce the over dependency on importation ofpetroleum products.

 He said NNPC was directed to expedite therehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warriand Kaduna and to achieve 50 per cent completion for Port Harcourt by December2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established bythe inclusive Steering Committee.

 According  to him,  the nationalleadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG)and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) will beintegrated into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.

“The Federal Governmentand its agencies are to ensure delivery of one million CNG/LPG AutoGasconversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria GasExpansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheapertransportation and power fuel.

 “A Governance Structure that will includerepresentatives of organised Labour shall be established for timely delivery,”he said. Ngige also said on the issue of general intervention that thegovernment will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way ofcushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.

 He said the Federal Government would give thelabour unions 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses immediately and ‘provide tothe major cities across the Country on a scale-up basis, thereafter to allStates and Local Governments before December 2021.’

 He said 10 per cent of the ongoing Ministry ofHousing and Finance housing initiative would be allocated to Nigerian workersunder the NLC and TUC.

 According to him, a specific amount is to beunveiled by the Federal Government in two weeks’ time, which will be isolatedfrom the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund that can beaccessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under theauspices of NLC and TUC.

 “This is for participation in agriculturalventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will befixed at the next meeting,” he said. In his remark, Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLCPresident said that both the government and organised labour have looked intothe issue of fuel price hike and what was needed to be put in place in order toaddress the issue of the increase.

 “We have discussed the state of our refineriesand how to achieve sustainable refineries. “We have also looked at the issue ofthe tariff hike and other challenges. “We agreed to suspend the strike, and weagreed to also put a committee in place to work outlasting solution inaddressing these challenges, including the issue of metering and importantly alsois to bring about the issue of efficiency.

Minister of Labour and Productivity Chief Chris Ngige

 “We also reviewed the process of privatisation and other issues such as clear palliatives that were needed to be extended to our members and Nigerians to cushion the effect of these policies,” he said. Wabba, therefore, called for social dialogue as a way of addressing issues of industrial relations, socio-economic issues and also issues of development.

 According to him, the labour hopes that thecommunique will be implemented, and therefore, the decision of the organisedlabour as represented here is to suspend the action.

 “We are going to convey our Central WorkingCommittee meeting to present the communique to them,” he said. Also, Mr QuadiriOlaleye, TUC president noted that based on the agreement signed between thegovernment and the labour, the planned industrial action would be suspended fortwo weeks. He added thatthe planned industrial action was called to draw the attention of thegovernment to certain issues.