STRIKE LOOMS AS FG, LABOUR MEETING ENDS IN DEADLOCK

BY Adelani Adepegba

An eight-hour meeting involving the Federal Government, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress ended in a deadlock on Tuesday, following the inability of the parties to reach a consensus.

While the organised labour was demanding the reversal of the hikes in the price of petrol and electricity tariffs, the Federal Government pleaded for understanding, saying it could not sustain the fuel subsidy.

Although the government team made presentations on its policies, it didn’t specify how the effects of the hikes in electricity and petroleum products would be alleviated.

Also on Tuesday, the TUC has said the indefinite strike and nationwide protest billed to commence from Wednesday, September 23, would hold as planned.

The congress had issued a seven-day ultimatum to the government on Monday, threatening to embark on an indefinite strike if the Federal Government failed to revert to the old electricity tariff and the price of petrol.

Olaleye in response to inquiries by our correspondent said in a text message at 6:30 pm on Tuesday said, “The ultimatum still stands; no acceptable explanation was presented. Still in the meeting.”

The dialogue which held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, began around 11 am and dragged on till past 7 pm without a resolution on the issues raised by the organized labour.

The parties, however, agreed that the unions should go for consultations with their executive council members and return for the second leg of the meeting at a future date.

The labour unions are expected to hold an expanded meeting today (Wednesday), where they would take a final position on the issues raised at the dialogue and revert back to the government.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige led the government team to the parley which also had in attendance the Minister of State, Labour, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and others.

The labour team was led by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; President of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, Secretary-General of the TUC, Musa Lawal, Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria President, Festus Osifo and the President of Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Association of Nigeria, Williams Akporeha, among others.

In his welcome address, Ngige said there was an urgent need for all stakeholders in the country to join hands to fashion out “how we can survive the economic challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

He said the meeting was “a bilateral dialogue between us as Nigerians to consider the state of the economy and events that have necessitated recent increases in electricity tariff and the price of Premium Motor Spirit.”

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