Organized Labour under the auspices of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday walked out of a meeting with Federal Government on the increment of the petroleum pump price and hike in electricity tariff.
They accused the government team of lack of sincerity of purpose.
Addressing Journalists after the walk out, the organised labour leaders maintained that government must revert to the old price of petrol at the inception of the meeting before dialogue can continue.
The meeting got abrupt end when the Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Joe Ajaero, insisted on the reversal of the new increment to the old price template at the last meeting before any deliberations could continue, but the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, said it was part of the agenda.
The Minister maintained that no one should decide for him on how to handle the meeting as he was in charge, the statement which according to sources, infuriated the labour leaders to stage the walk out.
Despite efforts by the government team led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, they could not persuade the labour leaders to listen to their presentation as they had already taken a stand on the matter.
The General Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Emma Ugbaja said, “We have had some understanding over time, but while these meetings were ongoing, we were suddenly slapped with a new increase in petroleum prices and we felt that was beyond what we had as an understanding with the government.
“And we felt that should be the first item for understanding today.
But surprisingly the government team felt otherwise, they felt the issue of imaginary palliatives should be discussed before what is causing the need for the palliatives should be discussed.
“And we felt that was putting the cart before the horse. We want to address the issue on petroleum pricing before we begin to think whether there is need for palliatives or not and on that strength we felt we cannot continue with a meeting whose agenda is wrongly prioritized.
“When the Government is willing to take it the way it is, we are ever ready to engage and to have things properly determined.”
Asked on what would be the next step, he said, “We have to go back to our organs to agree on the way forward, because we have leadership, we are known and clearly with that position we have to tell our members what the situation is.”
On his part, the Trade Union Congress (TUC) President, Comrade Quadri Olaleye blaim the government for lack of sincerity and keeping to agreements, adding that the labour leaders can no longer walk freely on the roads for fear of attack as workers now accus them of betrayal.
“Gentlemen of the press, like I mentioned at the beginning of the meeting that today’s meeting is not going to be as usual while because we have seen the insincerity of government and it is putting us at risk.
They are taking us for a ride which cannot continue.
We are on the process of discussion for over three months now and they made an announcement increasing the fuel price again and no other person than the NNPC.
“When has the authority been given to NNPC to increase the price of pms, this is unacceptable, the meeting agenda is not well prioritized and because of that we are leaving the meeting, we cant continue, we will go back to our organ and we are going to get back to you on the next of action.
We can’t continue with their insincerity.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Ngige, while trying to play down on the issue, told journalists that the labour leaders went to consult with their organs.