The House of Representatives on Sunday waded into the crisis between the Federal Government and the organised labour over the recent hikes in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) and electricity tariff.
The workers, however, insisted on starting industrial action on Monday until their demands are met.
The Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress had jointly declared their readiness to embark on a nationwide strike and protests to compel the Federal Government to reverse the hikes. The hikes had generated nationwide criticism.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, on Sunday met with President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba; and his TUC counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, among others.
Also at the meeting were the Deputy Majority Leader, Peter Akpatason; and Chairman, House Committee on Labour, Ali Muhammed.
The opening session began at 10:30am and ended at 10:52am. The meeting went behind closed doors and lasted almost one hour.
Emerging from the meeting, Wabba dismissed the various court rulings barring the workers from industrial action.
He said, “We have had a useful discussion with the leadership of the House of Representatives. We have shared our concerns and challenges with him (Gbajabiamila), especially the very challenges of the implication of the hike in the tariff of electricity and the (petrol) pump price. We also told him how the discussions with the Federal Government went and how the meeting was adjourned.
“He has also promised to try to intervene at his own level, to see to it that we don’t inflict more pains on Nigerians. And in the course of the discussion, we have also realised that the House of Reps has done a lot on this issue, including recommendation to government which we have shared mutually.
“But the bottom line is that we want this burden that has now been shifted to Nigerians as consumers to also be lifted so that we can have a decent life.”
Responding to a question on court injunctions barring workers from embarking on strike, Wabba accused the Federal Government of also disregarding a subsisting court pronouncement against electricity tariff hike.
The NLC boss said, “Are you not aware also that there is a court judgment stopping the tariff? This is a valid judgment from the High Court stopping the tariff increase and that judgment is still subsisting. Are you not aware of that? And on the issue of the court judgment, we have not been served.
“As I said, in good faith, you’ll recall that we were on the negotiation table up till late Thursday night. Therefore, our expectation is that we should be able to, in good faith, continue to dialogue, not to try to ambush because we have not received the order as of today and we don’t know the details of any order. Clearly speaking, we cannot speak on something that is not before us.
“The reality is that, on the issue of electricity tariff, we have a court judgment, not court order, that has nullified the increase in tariff and, therefore, we believe that the rule of law must always prevail. And in this case also, we want the right thing to be done.”
When asked if the organised labour would still go ahead with the strike as planned, Wabba said, “If the issues are not addressed – you’re aware that we’ve given a notice and that notice will certainly expire by tomorrow – all the actions we have pronounced will certainly take effect.”
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