Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja, Ibrahim Adam, Linus Oota, Lafia
Labour has asked Nigerians to prepare for “total strike” from Monday in protest against the hike in petrol price and electricity tariffs.
This is in spite of the ongoing talks between it and the Federal Government in an effort to avert industrial action.
“On September 28, 2020 (Monday), we will be withdrawing our services if the government fails to reverse the recent price increases on petrol and electricity. I urge members to mobilise Nigerians within their vicinities. We also encourage you to stock up on essential items because the strike will be a total lockdown.
“This time, the Nigeria Labour Congress would lead workers all over the country on indefinite strike action. The strike will be total,” The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)’s President Ayuba Wabba said in his address to the 6th Quadrennial National Delegates Conference of the National Union of Chemical, Footwear, Rubber, Leather and Non-Metallic Employees (NUCFLRANMPE) in Ibadan yesterday.
Wabba’s address was red by NLC First Vice President Abdulrafiu Adeniji.
He said the increase in electricity tariff presented Nigerians with the double jeopardy of dealing with astronomical increases in the price of goods and services and COVID-19.
According to him, the alternative cannot be to transfer failures on the part of the government on innocent Nigerian workers and citizens.
He said: “The solution cannot be the arbitrary gale of hike in electricity tariffs and increase in the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, Kerosene, Diesel and other refined petroleum products leading to spiral inflation in the cost of living and robbing workers the benefit of the recent increase in the national minimum wage.
“Organized Labour says “No Way”. Enough is Enough. For over 30 years now, we have given the government the chance and benefit of the doubt to fix our refineries but successive governments have failed to repay our faith with necessary actions. The truth is that there is no acceptable logic why our refineries should not be working. There is no acceptable explanation on why we cannot produce enough megawatts of electricity to power the potentials of our people including chemical, leather, rubber, footwear, and non-metallic industries.”
The NLC President also said there is no reason why Nigeria would invest billions of dollars in the power sector and in turn-around maintenance for the refineries and yet all the refineries are comatose and “no contractor has been quizzed or prosecuted for this colossal scale of economic sabotage”.
The National Union of Banks Insurance and Financial Institutions Employees (NUBIFIE) yesterday directed its zonal domestic units to commence mobilization and sensitisation of members in different banks across the country for the withdrawal of their services from Monday.
In a letter, General Secretary of the union Mohammed Sheik said the directive was in adherence to the decision of the National Executive Council (NEC) of NLC.
The NLC Nasarawa State chapter led by its chairman, Usuf Iya has set up a five-man committee to mobilise workers ahead of Monday’s protest and possible strike.
The committee’s responsibility is to coordinate mobilisation of members from various affiliates towards ensuring succcessful protest and possible strike.
Comrade Iya added that the committee would coordinate printing of posters, press releases, placards among others to ensure workers from the state participate in the planned action by the union.
The Alliance for Survival of COVID-19 and Beyond, (ASCAB) has also thrown its weight behind the planned strike.
The coalition has asked its affiliate members spread across the country to begin mobilisation towards the mass action.
“We fully support the position of TUC and NLC. ASACAB will intensify its campaign to ensure mass participation of Nigerians in an affair that affects their livelihood”, the group said in a statement yesterday.
The chairman of ASCAB, Mr Femi Falana, said: “ASCAB and all its 80 affiliate members across the country have been asked to prepare their members for a day of protest against anti-people policies of the Government.
“Our members will come out in millions to show their determination to free the fetters of iron and the chains of economic and political repression foisted on them by the Federal and State Governments”.
ASCAB said reasons given by the Federal Government for increasing fuel price were false. It argued that many countries have been providing subsidy for the extremely poor through health care services, access to public education, water, good food, housing and public transportation but that in Nigeria, the leadership concentrates on adding to the burden of the masses thereby fueling ceaseless public outrage, anger, desperation and even providing the breeding ground for the emergence of terrorist groups.
The group recalled that figures from the National Bureau of Statistics estimated that 82.9 Nigerians out of 201 million live in poverty, adding that this population of Nigerians will be negatively affected by the fuel and electricity price hike.
ASCAB noted that majority of Nigerians live on N13,7430 per year out of which they have to care for the essentials of live like food, shelter, housing and water resources.
The group said the poorest Nigerians live in rural areas without access to good water, roads and housing. It noted that of the 195,000 road networks in Nigeria, most of the rural roads that make up 68 per cent are neglected by the government.
“We have seen a continuous regime of subsidy removal for the past four decades. It is now clear that the subsidy removal and fuel hike have become rituals, slogans, catch phrases that are used continuously to defraud the Nigerian masses”.
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