Labour unions in Nigeria have suspended their planned nationwide protest and strike over the recent increase in electricity tariff and petrol price in the country.
The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had earlier scheduled September 28 for a nationwide rally to protest the hikes.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that the strike was suspended after a late-night meeting with a federal government team at the presidential villa in Abuja.
However, both parties resolved to review their decision in two weeks to see if their agreement with the government is fulfilled.
The suspension of the strike and protest was announced by the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, and contained in a communiqué signed by all the parties involved in the meeting.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the increase in electricity tariff from about N30.23 to about N62.33 per kWh, while the price of petrol was increased from about N145 to about N161 per litre.
Speaking after the meeting, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba said the unions agreed to suspend the strike after deliberating on the issues and a committee has been set up find a lasting solution to the problems
“Both the government and organised labour have looked into the issue of fuel price hike and we have discussed the state of our refineries and how to achieve sustainable refineries. We also reviewed the process of privatisation and other issues, such as clear palliatives that were needed to be extended to our members and Nigerians to cushion the effect of these policies,” he said.
Mr Wabba said the decision of the organised labour, as represented at the meeting, “is to suspend the action. We are going to convey our Central Working Committee meeting to present the communique to them.”
One of the reasons the unions suspended the strike, according to the communique, is that a specific sum of money will be unveiled by the Federal Government in two weeks’ time, which can be accessed by Nigerian workers under the auspices of NLC and TUC.
“This is for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting,” the communique reads.
Secondly, all parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising ministries, departments, agencies, NLC, and TUC, which will work for a duration of two weeks effective from Monday, September. 28 to resolve the issue of electricity tariff reforms.
Thirdly, all parties agreed that electricity distribution companies (DisCos) should suspend the new electricity tariff for two weeks while the discussion continues.
Fourthly, the government promised to facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impact of the policy on the lowest earners.
The federal government also promised the unions that 10 per cent of the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative on housing will be allocated to Nigerian workers under the NLC and TUC.
All parties also agreed on the need to expand the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependence on the importation of petroleum products.
“The federal government and its agencies to ensure delivery of one million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel. A governance structure that will include representatives of organised labour shall be established for timely delivery,” the communique reads in part.