Despite the offer of mouthwatering palliatives to dissuade the organized labor from the strike scheduled for Sunday night, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has posted a capital NO to the offer of House of Representatives.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, at a negotiation meeting with labor on Sunday in Abuja said the palliatives would be included in the proposed 2021 budget.
Gbajabiamila said that the budget would soon be presented to the National Assembly, stressing that some palliatives were being considered to cushion the effects of increase in electricity tariff and fuel price hike.
The palliative, according to the speaker, includes distribution of food items, reduction of taxes on minimum wage and payment of some special allowances.
Others are involvement in ownership of housing programmes through mortgage and distribution of special buses to public institutions which run on auto gas.
Gbajabiamila said that the palliatives would go a long way to assuage the suffering of Nigerians.
He said the lawmakers would also make provision in the budget to tackle the eight million deficit of meters to enable Nigerians to access them.
Gbajabiamila, who described estimated billing as a scam, said: “I have never heard it anywhere in the world, so if we may have to provide for the deficit, we will have to do that.”
He appealed to labour to suspend the planned strike, saying embarking on industrial action at this critical time would not augur well for the citizenry.
“You know, you cannot go on strike at this time, if you go on strike, the people you think you are protecting will be at the receiving end, we share your philosophy regarding workers’ rights.
“We know what Nigerians are going through, our position on electricity billing is obvious, the only thing now is to continue to talk, I am concerned about the people out there.
“Shutting down the markets, banks and other places of work is my worry, I am concerned about the people,” he said.
Gbajabiamila said that there was the need for every Nigerian to be properly metered in order to capture the true cost, adding that the lawmakers would consider metering in the 2021 budget.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said that the increase in electricity tariff and hike in fuel price had eroded the purchasing power of Nigerian workers.
He said the initial plan was that there would not be increase in electricity tariff until meters were provided for Nigerians.
Wabba commended the speaker for the intervention, adding that he had consistently represented the interest of Nigerians.
The NLC president said there was a valid court judgment nullifying the electricity tariff, adding that the judgment of the National Industrial Court asking NLC to stop its planned strike could not be sustained.
Wabba insisted that the NLC would go ahead with the strike if its demands were not met by the Federal Government before the expiration of the ultimatum.
In another move to prevent the planned strike by the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), the Federal Government has scheduled a meeting with the leadership of Organized Labor for 7pm on Sunday.
The meeting was earlier adjourned to Monday at 3pm following the inability of the Federal Government to reach an agreement with Labor on fuel and electricity tariff hikes.
Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labor and Employment, Charles Akpan, confirmed the meeting in a text message.
The meeting will hold at the Old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja by 7pm.
The message reads: “The Honorable Minister for Labor and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige will be meeting with the Organized Labor.
“The meeting earlier scheduled for Monday 28th September 2020 is now scheduled as follows:
“Date: Today, Sunday, 27th September 2020
Venue: Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa.