The two-day meeting between the Federal Government and the organised labour ended in a deadlock on Tuesday, with the Nigerian Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress leaders vowing to begin a nationwide protest against the removal of fuel subsidy.
This came as oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association began an indefinite strike on Tuesday, citing inhumane treatment by the management of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, an agency of the Federal Government.
The strike and planned protest by the organised labour slated for Wednesday (today) over the fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government may shut down the country and paralyse the economy.
Oil workers had earlier on Tuesday staged a protest and shut down the commission’s office in Lagos, while also vowing to shut down the agency’s offices nationwide.
Speaking on the planned strike on Tuesday, the NLC President, Joe Ajaero, said the organised labour had no reason to suspend the planned national protests and strike.
Ajaero spoke a few hours after another round of meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives held at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, deadlocked.
“We have no reason to call off the planned protests. If we suspend or call it off, you will know. I can tell you that the mobilisation is very high,” Ajaero said in response to questions from journalists.
The Federal Government had in a last-ditch effort to avert the strike met with the NLC and TUC leaders on Monday but the parley also failed to reach any resolution.
The PUNCH reports that the Federal Government and the organised labour have been at loggerheads following the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu on May 29,2023.
In an effort to foster negotiations, the government set up a committee to look into the demands of the labour unions for a 300 per cent wage increase to enable workers to cope with the challenges imposed by the deteriorating economic situation that came with the removal of the controversial fuel subsidy, among other things.
Though the committee was given a total of eight weeks to come up with a suitable plan for workers and Nigerians at large, the labour leaders insisted that the committee has continued to show a lack of commitment towards their shared goal.
An earlier move by the labour leaders to embark on strike was stopped by a court order obtained by the government.
Speaking earlier after the meeting with FG officials, the NLC Secretary-General, Emmanuel Ugboaja, hinted that the congress would consider the government’s appeal for a peaceful resolution.
But he was countered by the Deputy Vice-President of the NLC, Titus Amba, who said there was no new development following the national broadcast made by the President, Bola Tinubu, on Monday evening.
Addressing journalists after the meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives, the TUC President, Festus Osifo, described the palliatives rolled out by the President as “grossly insufficient.”
Giving an update on the outcome of the meeting, he said, “About the protests, yes, they (FG) also appealed that we should shelve the protests. Our response was that we are going this evening to have a conversation around that. And you will hear from us at the end of that meeting.’’