- Frowns at the Increasing Attack on Workers, Trade Union Rights
THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has resolved to convene a National Security Summit as a means of finding a lasting solution to the lingering crisis of insecurity in the country. The NLC made this known in a communiqué issued at the end of its National Executive Council meeting on Wednesday in Abuja.
While berating the persistent crisis of insecurity represented in increase in terrorism, kidnap-for-ransom, banditry and inter-communal clashes leading to the displacement of millions of people and rendering many communities inaccessible, the NLC called on the federal government to live up to its constitutional responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians many of who their lives have been ruined.
The NLC, in the communiqué signed by its President and General Secretary, Comrades Ayuba Wabba and Emma Ugboaja respectively, also warned that Nigerian workers can no longer tolerate the escalation of insecurity in the country as it presents huge dangers to citizens, economic growth and national stability.
Although it did not indicate when the national security summit will take place, the NLC however stressed that it is unacceptable that Nigerians are daily succumbing to “the searing siege of insecurity in the land” with remarkable negative impact on productivity, economic growth, food security as well as mental and physical health.
Frowns at Attack on Workers rights
The NLC also expressed its displeasure on what it calls increasing attack against workers and trade union rights by employers in both public and private sectors of the economy, calling out the Corporate Affairs Commission, Turkish Airline and Caverton Helicopters as the worse culprits in these regards.
“The NEC also frowned at the increasing attack against workers and trade union rights by employers of labour in both the public and private sector. [sic].
“NEC berated the management of Corporate Affairs Commission for attempts to kill unionism in the establishment especially through punitive transfer of trade union executives, withholding of workers’ salaries and refusal to remit statutory deductions.
“Also, the case of sack of trade union executives by Turkish Airline and the anti-unionization stance of Caverton Helicopters was discussed by NEC. NEC deplored the industrial tyranny by Turkish Airlines and Caverton Helicopters. The NEC also decried continued violation of workers’ rights in the banking sector especially through imposition of outrageous targets and absence of formal machinery for collective bargaining,” the communiqué stated.
Workers to Picket CAC Headquarters
While emphasising that the fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and protests by citizens is a universal right that should never be breached, the NLC said it will soon mobilise its members to picket the national headquarters of the CAC for three days.
On the trampling of workers’ rights by Turkish Airlines and Caverton Helicopters, the NLC resolved to issue a 14-day ultimatum to the management of the two organisations demanding the reinstatement of all sacked trade union executives and to desist from further anti-union actions.
According to the communiqué, the NLC also called on banks in the country to desist from what it described as “modern-day slavery of imposing unrealistic revenue targets on their employees,” as it called on the CBN “to direct the management of banks to constitute the employers’ representative body – the Nigeria Employers Association of Banks and Allied Institutions – to ensure seamless collective bargaining machinery in Nigeria’s banking industry.”
Govt Responsible for Electricity Tariff Hike, Questions Power Privatisation
The NLC further noted that in its evaluation of the electricity situation in the country, it has established that the federal government is responsible for the hike in electricity tariff just as it has also fundamental issues with the privatisation in the power sector.
“The NEC while considering the Report on Electricity Tariff established that there are conditions driving up electricity tariff in Nigeria that are within the control of government. Some of those conditions include high cost of gas used in power stations all over Nigeria the dollarization of gas used in running power stations all over the country and the frontloading and transfer of the cost of infrastructure investment by DISCOs to end consumers. Still on the high cost of gas used in power stations, NEC noted the findings in the Technical Report that gas is being sold to DISCOs at the cost of 2.5 cents against the international best price of 1.5 cents and that this cost is passed on to end consumers.
“The NEC also expressed concern that the total power generation in Nigeria since the privatization of the power sector has not exceeded about 4000MW. This hangs a huge question mark on the success and usefulness of the power sector privatization.
“The NEC also expressed dissatisfaction with poor implementation of the Accelerated National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP). The NEC frowned at the unleashing of double jeopardy on electricity consumers through the penchant by DISCOs to migrate Nigerians to higher tariff bands without their consent and also imposing fresh tariff hikes on electricity consumers in the country,” the NLC stated in the communiqué.
The NLC therefore called on government to “immediately address the conditions within its control that are driving up electricity tariff in Nigeria. First, the NEC called for a review of the power sector privatization programme which is already overdue for review since the law provides for a review of the privatization program after every two years.
“The NEC also calls for the reduction of the cost of gas to 1.5 cents and also the scrapping of the use of US and Nigeria inflation rates to determine the cost of gas to GENCOs. The NEC also called on government to step up on the mass distribution of meters to electricity consumers all over Nigeria. In order to ensure strict follow up and compliance, the NEC recommends the setting up of an oversight taskforce outside the purview of NERC and DISCOs.”
On Petrol Price, It’s Same Old Argument
On the issue of the prevailing climb in the price of petrol, the NLC stated that it is still the same old issue of lack of capacity to refine products locally which continues to fundamentally push up the price of not only that petrol but that of other petroleum products.
“The NEC observed that the issues driving incessant increases in the pump price of the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol and other refined petroleum products in Nigeria remain the same. These factors include Nigeria’s dependence on imported refined petroleum products owing to the near comatose of all of Nigeria’s public refineries, sea freight charges, the use of Import Parity Prices to calculate the landing cost of petrol and the unbearable pressure occasioned by the persistent volatility in foreign exchange rates, additional costs owing to the absence of critical infrastructures in our ports to handle imported refined petroleum products, the cost of demurrage, and taxes by different regulatory agencies. The NEC also expressed worries that previous promises made by successive governments to fix refineries have never been fulfilled.
The NLC said as a result of this, it resolved to “reject deregulation as long as it is import driven” just as it also “reiterated the traditional position of Congress that government should rehabilitate and revamp Nigeria’s local refineries as a sustainable solution to incessant increases in the pump price of petrol.
While arguing that “Nigeria’s refineries can be made to work in a short time once government asserts the political will to do so,” the NLC equally urged the federal government “to find ways and means to shield Nigerian citizens from the volatilities in the international crude oil market. The NEC also demanded that the template used in determining the pump price of PMS which includes inbuilt charges and inflationary trend should be reviewed to the benefit of Nigerians. NEC called for modular refineries in order to bring down the price of diesel.”