ORGANISED labour and the federal government are deadlocked after over ten
hours in a dialogue to resolve labour and civil society grievances over the recent increment in the prices of petroleum products and electricity tariff as well as Value Added Tax by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
The meeting which held at the Old Banquet Hall, State House, Abuja was later adjourned to a date yet to be announced.
Recently, the federal government endorsed the increment of the price of petrol from N145.80 to about N163 per litre while it backed the increase in electricity tariff by Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) from around N30.23 to about N62.33 per kwh. It also increased VAT from 5% to 7.5%.
The meeting was at the instance of the government following national outcry from across the country, especially organised labour and its key allies in the civil society.
At the end of yesterday’s meeting Tuesday night, a Deputy President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Comrade Amechi Asugwuni, stated that the government has “no agenda at the meeting and did not provide an alternative means for the hardship the masses are experiencing.”
Describing as theories government’s arguments for the increment, he said labour therefore advised for rescheduling of the meeting for parties to further consult.
For the President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Quadri Olaleye, the first step the government ought to take is to reverse the increments. He said the TUC stands by its 7-day ultimatum for the demand for reversal. The ultimatum ends on Tuesday next week failure of which the TUC will be embarking on a nationwide protest beginning on Wednesday, September 23, 2020.
“Government should take immediate steps to reverse the hike in prices as it affects electricity, petrol and all other social services in the country to the prices they were prior to the increase and provide adequate and quality healthcare and education for all to save the poor and the vulnerable at all levels,” Comrade Olaleye said.
But Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said there was an agenda for the meeting. “It is not true that the government has nothing on the table. The view of the meeting is that we adjourn, everybody is to go and consult his principal,” Dr Ngige said.