The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has joined the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, to condemn Wednesday’s increase in the price of the pump price of petrol, adding that government never consulted them on the price hike nor allowed them to make input before the announcement.
The Congress, in a statement signed by its President, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Acting Secretary General, Comrade (Barr.) Simeso Amachree, described the presence of organised labour at the meeting where the decision was taken as “premeditated ambush by the government which clearly did not invite us for any dialogue”.
TUC also insisted that it was unaware of how the government arrived at the new price as well as the decision of the government to allow market forces alone determine the cost of the product, adding that when government brought up the issue of a price increase, leaders of organised labour present at the meeting asked for time to consult their various organs and report back and were allowed to leave the meeting for consultation.
It would be recalled that the NLC had Wednesday similarly denied having a role to play in the price increase and threatening a showdown with the federal government if the decision to increase the pump price is not reversed.
The statement reads in full: “The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria wishes to state emphatically that we do not know how the Federal Government arrived at the new price of N145 for Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol. Neither do we appreciate how they arrived at their decision to allow market forces alone determine the cost of the product.
“The Congress wants to use this opportunity to put the records straight concerning the development. The organised labour received a 24-hour notice inviting us to meet with Vice President Osinbajo and some other key government functionaries including the Minister of Labour and Employment, the Minister of Information, the Chairman of the Governor’s Forum, and the Minister of State for Petroleum.
“Others include the principal officers of the National Assembly led by the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chairmen of the respective Committees on Petroleum in both chambers of the Assembly.
“The meeting held yesterday. The call for meeting stated no specific agenda, and we were left to conjecture. Little did we know that the government had already concluded plans to hike the price of petrol. Indeed we were taken aback.
“The meeting had the leadership of labour in attendance, but we never made any input. Not with the shock we experienced at the premeditated “ambush” by the government which clearly did not invite us for any dialogue.
“When they stated their plan to introduce the new prices, our response was to ask for time to consult with our respective executive organs and subsequently revert appropriately. The government representatives agreed. And so we left.
“We were therefore totally confounded and shocked when we got to know that they later went on air announcing new prices for petrol. But our focus and hope remain strong. We know what to do.
“Thus the TUC has scheduled an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) for Friday 13 May, 2016 to x-ray the government’s pronouncement and take a stand on the matter in the best interest of Nigerian workers and the masses of our people.
“To say Nigerians are disappointed and dismayed at the fuel price hike would be a colossal understatement, especially as the present APC government repeatedly insisted during their pre-2015 election campaigns that there was already nothing like subsidy during the immediate past administration. Alas, what a great volte face! What betrayal in high places!
“For sure, we know that the fuel scarcity the nation is currently experiencing is artificial, and we have observed comments of those benefiting from the system commending the latest development.
“For us, the fact that petrol is currently selling for between N150 and N250 per litre does not mean that such outlandish prices should be maintained, least of all endorsed as official policy. We are meeting soon and will come out with our position. God bless Nigeria and her people”.
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