The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened to shut down the economy if the federal government refuses to reverse the recent hike in petrol price and electricity tariff in 14 days.
By Azeezat Adedigba
The NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, said this at the end of the NLC’s central working committee (CWC) meeting on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mr Wabba said workers and Nigerians are disappointed that the government decided to increase both the price of fuel and electricity tariff at a time “other countries across the world are giving palliatives to their citizens to cushion the effect of COVID-19.”
It was reported that electricity distribution companies had hiked their tariffs from about N30.23 to about N62.33 per kWh for Nigerians after the federal government said it would no longer subsidise electricity consumption.
Also, the price of petrol increased from about N145 to about N161 per litre.
Also reported was how Trade Union Congress (TUC) and civil societies issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to reverse the increases in petroleum products, electricity tariff and other social services, or prepare for an indefinite industrial action and national protest starting from September 23.
In an effort to resolve these issues, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the minister of employment and productivity to hold a meeting between the federal government, labour unions and the CSOs.
However, the meeting, held on Tuesday, ended without an agreement.
The parties later resolved to further consult and reconvene at a latter date, which has not been communicated
According to Mr Wabba, the CWC identified that COVID-19 and the socioeconomic situation of the country has caused Nigerians enough suffering, and now the hike has reduced the purchasing power of Nigerians.
“Also, it has brought about high cost of goods and services and we saw that it has eroded completely the gains of the N30,000 minimum wage,” he said.
He said the CWC and the NEC also took reports of the meeting that took place between the federal government and organised labour where NLC was represented by 14 of its leaders.
He said the CWC issued a two-week ultimatum to the federal government to reverse the fuel price hike or face industrial action and peaceful Assembly.
“In furtherance to this, the Central Working Committee resolved also to convene a meeting of the national executive council in line with our constitution, on September 22, 2020, Tuesday, to also give effect to this decision because the proposed action, will commence on Monday, September 28, 2020, if those issues are not addressed,” he said.
Mr Wabba said the NLC central working committee will also mobilise its members, civil societies and other social partners to try to resist these policies because it has driven many Nigerians into poverty.
“This afternoon, the Central Working Committee members were sharing their aims and experiences arising from the exploitative nature of these policies where it is very evident even in some cases the N30,000 minimum wage cannot actually pay for the electricity,” he said.
“The experience we have here is that somebody actually loaded a credit of N30,000, it could not take him two weeks and this has been the experience all over the country. It is really a decision that is biting at every worker and every family and I think it is a decision that certainly requires reversion,” he said.