Labour unions succumb to pressure, suspend nationwide protest

September 28, 2020
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The two major labour groups in the country, Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress on Sunday night may have suspended the planned nationwide protest scheduled to hold on today, Monday 28 after a late night meeting with the federal government.

Recall that both unions had kicked against the increases in the prices of petrol and electricity, demanding that the federal government suspend the hike or face industrial action.

The removal of the subsidy led to an increase in electricity tariff from about N30.23 to about N62.33 per kWh while the price of petrol increased from about N145 to about N161 per litre.

In a communique signed by all the parties involved and announced by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the labour unions agreed to suspend the protest, and also resolved to review their decision in another two weeks to see if their agreement with the government is being complied with.

Speaking on the electricity tariff, Ngige said the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government as well as the NLC and TUC, which will work for a duration of two weeks from today.

He said the responsibility of the committee is to examine the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of conflicting information from the field.

According to him, the technical committee membership is as follows: Chairman: Minister of State Labour & Employment – Festus Keyamo; Minister of State Power – Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission – James Momoh; SA to Mr President on Infrastructure – Ahmad Zakari; NLC member – Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen; NLC member – Joe Ajaero; TUC member – Chris Okonkwo and a representative of electricity distribution companies, DISCOS.

Mr Ngige said the committee would also look at the different DISCOs and their electricity tariff ‘vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate.’

On Petrol, Ngige said all parties agreed on the need for expanding the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependence on the importation of petroleum products

“NNPC to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50 per cent completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee,” he said.

He said the government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest earners.

Speaking separately after the meeting, the president of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and that of the TUC, Quadri Olaleye, confirmed the content of the communique. He also said the technical committee will work out a lasting solution in addressing the electricity tariff including the issue of metering.

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