Nigerian labour leaders reportedly walked out of a meeting with the Federal government yesterday and have vowed to go on indefinite strike starting today, Wednesday, in protest of the increase in the pump price of petrol.
The meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal,and other officials of government in Abuja was to try and reach a truce on the matter.
Recall the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, had earlier on Tuesday approached the National Industrial Court (NIC) on behalf of federal government to stop the strike to which the court ruled in favour of the Federal Government, restraining the NLC from proceeding with the planned strike. Read here if you missed.
However, the faction led by NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, described the restraining order as a black market injunction. Addressing newsmen after walking out of the meeting, Wabba said:
“The issue and the mandate we have is to the effect that the generality of Nigerian workers feel that the pump price of N145 per litre is too outrageous and out of proportion.
“Therefore, it is something that with the hard economic situation, it is very difficult for them to go by, especially in the context of the quantum of the increase.
“Therefore, even the attempt to try to see how this can be mitigated was not actually made possible at the meeting.
“We thought that we should not continue in a process where we think the end product has not been able to meet our minimum expectation and this would not bring succour to the larger Nigerian public.
“It is on this decision, we thought that it is not necessary for us to continue in the process as the mandate given to us by the NEC today is the effect of reversal of the pump price especially.”
According to reports, NLC and TUC are infuriated at the government’s scheming. On one hand it was negotiating with them and on the other hand, its officials were seeking an injunction.
Their decision to proceed with the industrial action is to make a statement to the government.
In Wabba’s words: “We are not aware of any court ruling that has been served on NLC; we have not been served and I can say that as we are here, we have also informed them that we are not aware of any court ruling.
“We have not been put on notice and we are not aware,’’ he insisted.
The General Executive Secretary of Medical and Health Workers Union, north central, Richard Gbamwuan, told Premium Times,
“We have resolved to go ahead with the protest nationwide, as far as we are concerned, we are yet to be aware of any court injunction.”
“And if there is any court injunction, we are just doing what federal government is fond of doing. The same Industrial court had stopped federal government from increasing electric tariff but till date federal government ignored us, they still went ahead, so we are embarking on the protest.”
Also, Pro-Labour Civil Society Groups, Joint Action Front, (JAF) also vowed to disregard the restraining order. Secretary of JAF, AbiodunAremu said: “The mass action is on! Let them come with the injunction, we would disobey whatever injunction they are coming up with”, reports Vanguard.
However, the President, Trade Union Congress (TUC) MrBobboi Kaigama in a separate news conference, pledged the union’s support for the removal of fuel subsidy by the Federal Government.
Kaigama said that TUC would no longer embark on the nationwide strike as earlier proposed, adding that the decision was taken at the National Executive Council meeting of the TUC.
“We want to say that we have disengaged ourselves from this strike because we have been duly educated on the benefits of the fuel subsidy removal.”
The Federal Government had also met separately with the Joe Ajaero-led NLC faction, which has also backed out of the planned labour strike.
Though he condemned NIC’s ex-parte order, he however maintained that they would rather negotiate first before going trough any action. According to him, his faction, including NUPENG, PENGASSAN, NUEE, among others, would not go on strike
Leave your views in comments box below.