The Joe Ajaero-led faction of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) on Friday adduced reason for not joining the nationwide strike called by the Ayuba Wabba-led NLC.
Ajaero adduced that Wabba refused to work with them during the negotiations, out of ego.
Addressing a press conference in Lagos, Ajaero and NUPENG president Achese Igwe said the Wabba-led NLC was too hasty in calling for the strike.
Ajaero said his faction of the NLC held productive talks with the government, including the agreement to set up a panel on palliatives to cushion the effect of the petrol price increase.
According to him, both factions of the NLC could have worked together on the strike, but, the Wabba-faction walked out of a meeting with the government, insisting that the Ajaero faction must not be part of it.
“If not for the unfortunate incident that happened that day, maybe we would have been together. Maybe it’s an ego thing,” Ajaero said.
Besides, he said before a strike action is declared, a 21-day ultimatum ought to be given, not three days.
He called for transparency in the management of the palliatives, saying the refineries should be fixed or new ones built while more jobs must be created.
“The whole essence of negotiation is to implement a workable agreement. Then when the agreement fails, there are other options. I will not lead a strike that will not enjoy mass support. We need to differentiate between strike and protests.
Igwe said as a way of cushioning the effect of the pump price increase, states should endeavour to clear their salary arrears while negotiation for minimum wage increase continues.
“We said we expected the government to engage us, and they did. The era of impunity is over, so the palliatives must be transparent,” he said.
Both union leaders called for the urgent inauguration of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) board, which would include representatives of Labour unions.
On reconciliation of the two warning NLC factions, Ajaero said: “Nobody has bothered to investigate the election (which caused the division). NLC’s rules were violated and that has not been addressed. Reconciliation is not working before the board mediating between the parties does not have the bite to enforce resolutions reached.
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