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Fuel Subsidy: FG, NLC Fail To Reach Agreement

by Daudu John


Fuel Subsidy: FG, NLC Fail To Reach Agreement


 For the umpteenth time, the meeting between the Federal Government failed to reach an agreement with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on the best foot forward in providing palliatives to cushion the fuel subsidy removal.


Expectedly ending in a deadlock, the meeting, convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Simon Lalong, fell short of addressing any of the issues raised by the Organised Labour as reasons for the proposed strike.


This is as the Labour Movement chided the government for its continuous lukewarmness in handling the palliative arrangements meant to cushion the sufferings occasioned by the subsidy removal policy.


Lalong, who spoke with journalists shortly after the meeting, said though issues raised by the Nigerian workers could not be addressed immediately, the government is confident that most of these concerns would be effectively resolved before the deadline given by Labour.


Expressing the government’s readiness to make life easy for the overall good of Nigerians, the Minister was full of praise for the Labour Leadership saying; “I fully acknowledge and appreciate the invaluable role the NLC plays in championing for the rights and welfare of our workers. Your dedication and tireless advocacy have been critical in shaping a fair and inclusive work environment and ensuring the well-being of our workforce.


“We acknowledge the valid grievances that have fueled the recent labour crisis, and we are committed to addressing them in a just and equitable manner. We must also recognize the economic realities that confront us. As we address the concerns of our workforce, we must be mindful of striking a balance that promotes economic growth and secures sustainable progress for our nation.”


The immediate past Governor of Plateau State, who amplified the need for continuous engagement by all stakeholders on the best way forward, said; “Today, I call upon each one of you to join hands in an open-minded and constructive dialogue, enabling us to bridge any gaps that may exist between the interests of workers and the ultimate goal of driving economic advancement.


“In the spirit of unity and with utmost commitment to the betterment of our nation, let us seize this opportunity to listen and understand one another. Together, let us explore innovative approaches, reimagining strategies that enhance working conditions and worker benefits while nurturing a robust economy”.


Speaking further on the meeting Lalong said the President Bola Tinubu-led administration is hopeful that a constructive dialogue between it and the Organised Labour would eventually lead to the resolution of all issues on the ground, stressing that the government is fully appreciative of the current hardship and suffering by Nigerians due to the fuel subsidy removal.


In his comments on the meeting’s failed outcome, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero, reiterated that the two-day warning strike by the union was necessitated by frustration experienced by the nation’s working class with the government not showing enough commitment to improve the welfare of Nigerians amidst the current hardship.


According to him; “We had a meaningful discussion on issues relating to our demands. We equally discussed frankly issues bordering on the coup plotted and executed by the Nigerian Police against the NURTW, which had led to the sideling of the democratically elected leadership of the Union. Both parties agreed to express concern about such unhealthy development.


“This is one sore area that the Nigerian Trade Union is not ready to compromise. That coup must be condemned, whether it is in Niger, whether it is in Congo, whether it is in Mali or whether it is in the Trade Union Movement in Nigeria.”


On specific issues tabled at the meeting, Comrade Ajaero said; ”In the ultimatum we gave and in the NEC resolution, the issue of NURTW was clearly stated and it was at the time the issue has not degenerated the way it is now. That was why we had to bring it along with issues.


“On the other issues, you can see that there were no agreements on any. There is no CNG anywhere and refineries are not working and neither is gas. Nothing has been done on the issue of wage awards and cash transfers or the ASUU issues.”


While hoping that “between now and the next few days, when the ultimatum expires, something will happen”, the NLC President said given the Congress’ ultimatum, if progress is not made before its expiration, an indefinite nationwide strike would commence immediately without any warning


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