Petrol Subsidy: NLC denies strike on Friday

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Lagos, June 1, 2023 – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has denied news reports that it planned to commence a nationwide strike from Friday, June 2, in protest against the planned removal of petrol subsidy announced by the Federal Government.

In a statement issued on Thursday by Benson Upah, the NLC Head of Information and Public Affairs, the union advised the general public to disregard stories circulating in the social media that the congress would commence strike against the increase in the petrol pump price on Friday.

NLC said that the union had no plan to start any action tomorrow “even as the organised labour is outraged by the increase in price of petrol that would bring untold hardship to ordinary Nigerians.”

The congress was it was only meeting on Friday to look into the issue and decide on the next line of action, promising to keep Nigerians updated of the outcome.

The new pump price of petrol, as approved by the federal government, has continued to generate criticisms with many viewing the move as too anti-masses.

But, the federal government is insisting that the total removal of petrol subsidy was for the good of the nation.

The Federal meeting met with the NLC on the issue at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday night, but the meeting ended in a deadlock.

The NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, who briefed journalists at Labour House, Abuja, on Wednesday, described the development as an ambush.

He said that the Congress would not accept it because government could not be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of petroleum products, noting that removal of subsidy or fixing of price is not what government could do unilaterally.

“We are worried that the government, through the NNPC, despite the ongoing meeting of stakeholders in the oil and gas sector to manage the unilateral but unfortunate announcement by the President to withdraw subsidy on petroleum products, went ahead this morning to announce a new regime of prices under a new pricing template.

“This is an ambush and runs against the spirit and principles of social dialogue which remains the best platform available for the resolution of all the issues arising out of the petroleum Down-stream sector.

“Government cannot in one breathe be talking about deregulation and at the same time fixing the prices of Petroleum products. This negates the spirit of allowing the operation of the free market unless the government has as usual usurped, captured or become Market forces,” he said.

Ajaero, however, called on the federal government to immediately instruct the NNPCL to withdraw what he described as its “vexatious pricing template” to allow free flow of discussions by the parties.

He said the meeting scheduled to be held among stakeholders by 2.00pm on Thursday had been put on hold, accusing the government of trying to scuttle the dialogue.

“It is, therefore, unacceptable and we seriously condemn it. Good faith negotiation is key to reaching agreement. What the government has done is like holding a gun to the head of Nigerian people and bring undue pressure on the leaders thus undermine the dialogue.

“We call on the federal government to immediately instruct the NNPC to withdraw this vexatious pricing template to allow free flow of discussions by the parties.

“Nigerians would not accept any manipulations of any kind from any of the parties especially from the representatives of the Government.

“Our commitment to this process is buoyed on the fact that all the parties would be committed to ensuring that it is carried out within the ambits of liberty without undue pressure.

“The release of that template may not allow us to continue if nothing is done to withdraw it so that the dialogue can continue unhindered. It is clear that Government is actually trying to scuttle the process.’’ (GBN)

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