The management of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress, TUC have on behalf of organized labour suspended today’s planned nationwide protest following theagreement reached with the Federal Government in the meeting of Sunday held in the banquet hall of State House in Abuja.
This was contained in a communique read by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, after a technical session that started late on Sunday and lasted till the early hours of Monday.
An aspect of the agreement reached was the reversal of the new electricity tariff for a period of two weeks pending the outcome of a technical committee which is expected to conduct its investigations and submit its report. The committee is to look at the new tariff regime and metering among other issues with a view to understanding what the labour minister described as conflicting field reports justifying the hike in electricity tariff.
In the communique read by Chris Ngige, organised labour and government agreed that another steering committee be set up on the petroleum downstream to ensure that the country reduces importation of petroleum products by fixing the existing refineries. Ngige decried the stifled growth in Nigeria’s downstream sector and the dire circumstances faced by the government which he claims is the justification for fuel subsidy removal. The new price of fuel will, however, remain in place but the government promised to do more to improve local refining capacity, rehabilitate Nigeria’s refineries.
Other agreements reached include that a specific amount unveiled by the Federal Government in two weeks that will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund and made accessible by workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The timeline for the special fund is to be fixed at the next meeting between labour and government.
An agreement was also reached on the fact that Federal Government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way to cushion the impact of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.
Again on the table and agreement reached was that FG will immediately make available to organized labour 133 CNG/LPG driven mass transit buses and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis thereafter to all states and local governments before December 2021.
The meeting equally agreed that 10% will be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba while confirming that the planned strike has been suspended, hailed the dialogue with government and the resolutions reached saying he is looking forward to the palliatives reaching Nigerians in order to cushion the effect of the fuel price increase.
Organized labour stressed that the strike was suspended not called off thus could be recalled if the government reneges in fulfilling its own part of the agreement in the next two weeks.
The meeting had in attendance the NLC President Ayuba Wabba, President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Quadri Olaleye and other members of organised labour, while the government’s team included the Minister of Labour Dr Chris Ngige, Minister of State for Labour Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Petroleum Timipre Silva, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation Boss Mustapha.