*Wants this done to avert nationwide industrial action
*As FG gazettes market-based pricing regime for petrol
*TUC’s 7-days ultimatum misplaced – Ngige
Nigeria Labour Congres, NLC has finally taken a stand on the controversial increase in electricity tariff and pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS as it gives the federal government two weeks ultimatum to reverse the increases or face nationwide industrial action.
Briefing newsmen after its meeting in Abuja yesterday, NLC President Comrade Ayuba Wabba said NLC alongside its allies across the country would embark on nationwide strike with effect from Monday, September 28 if government failed to comply with their demand at the end of the ultimatum.
“We convened a meeting because of the twin issues of hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff and the Central Working Committee, CWC has noted that the two increases if not revered would have adverse effect on Nigerians.
“Despite the fact that they are ill timed because of the pandemic COVID-19 and the economic situation in the country, the CWC has also identified that it has reduced the purchasing power of Nigerians,” he said.
Speaking further, Wabba stressed that both increases have brought about high cost of goods and services and has eroded completely the gains of the N30, 000 minimum wage approved recently for workers by federal government.
“The Central Working Committee, CWC also took report of the meeting held between the Federal Government and organized labour where NLC was represented by 14 of its leaders and therefore has resolved to issue a two weeks ultimatum to the federal government to reverse or face full industrial action.
“In furtherance to this, the CWC has resolved to also convene a meeting of the National Executive Council, NEC in line with our Constitution on September 22 to also give effect to this decision,” he added.
However, while the organized labour is warming up for a showdown if the increases in fuel price and electricity tariff were not reversed, the federal government has gazzeted the market-based price regime of the nation’s petroleum downstream sector.
The implication of the gazette is that with immediate effect, oil marketers across the country have the power to fix petrol price based on market forces.
The spokesman of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, Mr. Apollo Kimchi presented the official gazette containing the new petrol price to newsmen.
It would be recalled that at a different event, the Executive Secretary of the PPPRA, Saidu Abdulkadir had said that “The pronouncement that the sector is deregulated means that prices would strictly be based on the forces of demand and supply.”
“The Petroleum Products Marketing Company, PPMC, had been the one announcing the price of petrol over the last few months, because it was within its rights to do so, as one of the oil marketers and a major supplier of the commodity.
“The price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol is not directly correlated with the crude oil price. A number of other factors are responsible for the price of the commodity.
“The price of petrol in the Nigerian market would be determined by market forces.
“The PPPRA, however, would continue to remain relevant irrespective of the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.
“PPPRA will continue to regulate the sector, and stipulate codes of conduct within which marketers must operate by,” he added.
On his part, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has faulted the Trade Union Congress, TUC, on the seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to revert to the old prices of petrol and electricity tariff, if not the union will embark on strike.
Senator Ngige said that the ultimatum was misplaced as according to him, it was addressed to the president of Nigeria, which he said contravened labour laws.
“The TUC issue, the seven-day ultimatum was misplaced because they were writing the President and issuing an ultimatum to him. The President is not recognised by the International Labour Organisation, ILO.
“The competent authority for this nature of the dispute in Nigeria resides in the man who oversees them, which is whoever the Minister of Labour and Employment is”, he explained.
On the new national policy on occupational safety and health, the Minister said it was aimed at ensuring that all workers are safe at their workplaces across the country and that it was derived from provisions of the Nigerian Constitution and the International Labour Organisations, ILO, convention.
According to him, “The Federal Executive Council today (Wednesday) approved a new policy on occupational safety and health-2020. This policy is designed to make for the safety and health of workers at workplaces.”
“It derives from the main ground norm law of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which in section 17 (3c) prescribes that the Nigerian State shall make laws and bye-laws for the preservation of the health and well-being of workers in the workplaces; men and women at work.
“It also derives from the ILO convention 155, which Nigeria has also domesticated. Again, that talks about making the workplace conducive and ensuring the health and well-being of workers,” he stated.
Ngige further explained that the last time the policy was reviewed was 14 years ago, adding that the new one has a review period of three years.
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