The speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday during a meeting in Abuja to suspend the planned strike over electricity tariff and fuel price hike.
This comes after the leaders of the labour union announced its readiness to embark on a nationwide protest on Monday, September 28, 2020, if the Federal Government fails to avert the hikes.
Therefore, to prevent the protest that was planned to commence on Monday, the House of Representatives has proposed to offer certain palliatives. Gbajabiamila said the palliatives would be included in the proposed 2021 budget while speaking during the negotiation meeting with the members of the union.
He further added that the budget would soon be presented to the National Assembly, highlighting that some palliatives were being considered to cushion the effects of an increase in electricity tariff and fuel price hike.
According to Gbajabiamila, the palliatives include distribution of food items, reduction of taxes on minimum wage, and payment of some special allowances. The speaker also added that other items include the involvement in the ownership of housing programmes through mortgage and distribution of special buses to public institutions which run on autogas.
He further noted that the palliatives would go a long way to ease the suffering of the citizens. Gbajabiamila also stated that the lawmakers would also make provision in the budget to tackle the eight million deficits of meters to permit Nigerians to access them.
“You know, you cannot go on strike at this time, if you go on strike, the people you think you are protecting will be at the receiving end, we share your philosophy regarding workers’ rights. We know what Nigerians are going through, our position on electricity billing is obvious, the only thing now is to continue to talk, I am concerned about the people out there.
“Shutting down the markets, banks and other places of work is my worry, I am concerned about the people,” said Gbajabiamila. However, the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba, stated that the rise of electricity tariff and fuel price had damaged the purchasing power of Nigerian workers. He further said that the initial proposal was that there would not be an increase in electricity tariff until meters were provided for the citizens.
Moreover, the NLC president said there was a valid court judgment nullifying the electricity tariff, adding that the judgment of the National Industrial Court asking NLC to stop its planned strike could not be sustained.
Wabba insisted that the NLC would continue with the planned strike if its demands were not met by the Federal Government before the expiration of the ultimatum.