Labour suspends protests for two days, to resume on Monday

Labour leaders addressing protesters

The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Joint Action Front (JAF) has applied break on its five-day old strike over the sudden cut in fuel subsidy by the Nigerian government.

The strike, labour leaders say, will resume Monday.

NLC Acting General Secretary, Owei Lakemfa, and TUC Secretary General, John Kolawole, said in a statement that following consultations with its civil society allies nationwide, the labour movement decided to observe Saturday and Sunday as strike, protest and rally-free days.

According to the statement, after five days of massive protests that virtually crippled the country’s economy, there was need for Nigerians to take some days off “to rest, restock and get re-energized” to continue next week if the Federal Government still refused to rescind its decision to remove subsidy on the price of petrol.

NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar, while addressing protesters in Abuja today, commended Nigerians for turning out en masse at the various rallies called to denounce government’s decision, which has triggered over 117 percent hike in petrol price, with its attendant impact on inflation and prices of goods and services.

 “We ask Nigerians to utilize these days to rest, restock and get re-energized for the continuation of the strikes, rallies and protests from Monday 16th January, 2012,” he said. “If by Sunday government does not meet the demand of Nigerians, we will come out on Monday stronger than before. It is going to be the mother of all crowds.

“It is sad that the purchasing power of the naira has crashed as a result of the astronomical increase in the price of petrol price. Labour will remain focused and resolute on the demand for a reversal of the price of petrol to N65 per litre.

“Despite that, the level of sincerity of government on the issue is not acceptable, I believe that the tension will cease if President Goodluck Jonathan decides to make a broadcast to Nigerians that he is concerned about their aspirations and accepts that as a democratically elected President, with the responsibility to the entire citizenry of this country, and revert back to N65 per litre, it would open a window of opportunity for discussion on the whole issue of downstream sector of the petroleum industry and distribution of petroleum products, including pricing.

 “If he continues to look at it from the point of his ego, it is not going to help matters.”

On the outcome of the labour’s negotiation with the Federal Government on Thursday night, the union leaders said following government’s insistence on negotiation of new fuel prices, rather than revert to the price of N65 per litre, it resolved to suspend further discussions till Saturday, to enable it return to its national executive council (NEC) to seek for a wider mandate.

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