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Subsidy: Solution In Sight For Government, Labour Impasse

The impasse between the Nigerian government and organised labour, following the removal of subsidy on petrol is gradually coming to an end.

This is as a result of the suspension of the planned strike by organised labour on Monday night, sequel to the signing of an agreement by both parties, having reached agreement.

Talks are however to continue in two weeks’ time, in order to end the lingering negotiations between government and labour, on how to cushion the effects of removal of petrol subsidy on Nigerians.

Addressing State House Correspondents at the end of Monday’s meeting with the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC, incumbent Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabianila, who doubles as the Chief of Staff to the President, revealed that an agreement has been reached on the matter thus, the planned strike action would no longer hold.

He said: “Following the engagement between the Nigerian government, TUC and NLC; with the intervention of the Speaker, House of Representatives, to resolve the dispute that arose from the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, the following resolutions were reached:

“1 The government, TUC and the NLC to establish a joint committee to review proposals for any wage increase or award and establish a framework and timeline for implementation.

“2 The government, TUC and the NLC to review the World Bank Finance Cash transfer scheme and propose inclusion of low income earners in the programme.

“3 The government, TUC and the NLC to revive the CNG conversion programme earlier agreed with labour centres in 2021 and work out detailed implementation and timing.

“4 The labour centres and the Nigerian government to review issues hindering effective delivery in the education sector and propose solutions for implementation.

“5 The labour centres and the Nigerian government to review and establish the framework for completion of the rehabilitation of the nation’s refineries.

“6 The Nigerian government to provide a framework for the maintenance of roads and expansion of rail networks across the country.

“7 All other demands submitted by the TUC to the government will be assessed by the joint committee.”

Gbajabiamila said consequent upon the resolutions, the NLC and TUC agreed to suspend their planned strike action earlier scheduled to commence on Wednesday June 7.

He added that the government and the labour unions agreed to reconvene on the 19th of June to agree on the implementation framework for the agreement.

Confirming the resolution, President of the NLC, Joseph Ajaero said “Just like the Speaker said, these are the framework for us to follow in achieving some of the agreements reached here. You can see that nothing is yeti in concrete terms. So, on the adjourned date, we will go into more specifics to make sure this naughty issue is resolved.”

The TUC President, Festus Osifo also concurred by saying “As said by the Speaker House of Representatives and my colleague the President of NLC, we have been able to put some agreements together and the document is what has just been read to you and we from labour want to encourage government to take this seriously because the government is just coming in and this may be the first agreement that is signed by this government that was inaugurate don May 29 so, I want us to commit to getting these issues resolved as soon as possible. So, for us on the side of labour we are totally committed to get these issues resolved for the benefit of the entire Nigerians.”

The agreement was signed by the President of NLC, Joseph Ajaero, his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo and the Secretaries of the two bodies, while the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ms Kachollom Daju and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila signed for the government.

Labour Unions in Nigeria had concluded plans to embark on a nationwide strike action, to force the government to put in place measures that would cushion the harsh effects of the removal of subsidy on petrol, which has subjected workers and the entire citizenry to untold hardships as a result of the sudden removal of subsidy.

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