…As Reps speaker dangles carrots at labour to avert strike

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba has declared that the judgment of the National Industrial Court asking the organized labour not embarked on its planned strike cannot be sustained.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba

This is as the House of Representatives placed on the table before the NLC and TUC some baits for consideration towards averting the labour strike scheduled to commence on Monday, September 28, 2020.

Wabba stressed that the NLC would go ahead with the strike if its demands are not met by the Federal Government before the expiration of the ultimatum.

The NLC president, who stated these at a meeting between the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the leadership of the NLC and Trade Union Congress (TUC), noted that there is a valid court judgment nullifying the electricity tariff.

Wabba specifically said that the initial plan and agreement with the Federal Government was that there would not be increase in electricity tariff until meters were provided for Nigerians.

The NLC boss said that the increase in electricity tariff and hike in fuel price had eroded the purchasing power of Nigerian workers.

He commended Gbajabiamila for the intervention, adding that he had consistently represented the interest of Nigerians.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who led the leadership of the House at a meeting with the NLC and TUC on Sunday in Abuja, said the offers would be included in the proposed 2021 Appropriation Bill.

Gbajabiamila said that the budget which would soon be presented to the National Assembly, would contain some palliatives to cushion the effects of the increases in electricity tariff and fuel price hike.

He said that the palliatives would include the distribution of food items, reduction in taxes on minimum wage and payment of some special allowances as well as the involvement in ownership of housing programmes through mortgage and distribution of special buses to public institutions which run on auto gas.

The Speaker said that the palliatives would go a long way to assuage the suffering of Nigerians, adding that the House of Reps would also make provision in the budget to tackle the eight million deficit of meters to enable Nigerians to access them.

Gbajabiamila, who canvassed for Nigerians to be allowed three months free electricity supply as part of measures to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic, described estimated billing as a scam.

According to him; “I have never heard it anywhere in the world, so if we may have to provide for the deficit, we will have to do that.”

The Speaker therefore appealed to labour to suspend the planned strike, stressing that embarking on an industrial action at this critical time would not augur well for the economy and citizenry.

In his words; “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”.

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