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Labour suspends strike action scheduled for today

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The nationwide strike and rally scheduled to commence today have been suspended by the organised labour.

The new development is the outcome of an intensive, late night negotiation between the labour unions and the federal government team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja last night.

The labour unions – Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress- also resolved to review their decision in another two weeks to see if their agreement with the government would be complied with.

The suspension of the strike was contained in a communiqué signed by all the parties present at the meeting and announced by Chris Ngige, the minister of labour and employment on Monday morning.

Mr Ngige said the unions decided to suspend the strike after fruitful deliberations.

“Consequently, the NLC and TUC agreed to suspend the planned industrial action,” he said.

Speaking on the electricity tariff, which is one of the contentions issues, Mr Ngige said the parties agreed to set up a Technical Committee comprising Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government as well as the NLC and TUC, which will work for a duration of two weeks from today.

The committee is to examine the justifications for the new policy in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of conflicting information from the field.

The Minister of State Labour & Employment – Festus Keyamo will chair the technical committee while the following will serve as members: Minister of State Power – Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission – James Momoh; Buhari’s SA on Infrastructure – Ahmad Zakari; NLC member – Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen; NLC member – Joe Ajaero; TUC member – Chris Okonkwo and a representative of electricity distribution companies, DISCOS.

Mr Ngige said the committee would also look at the different DISCOs and their electricity tariff ‘vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate.’

On petrol, Mr Ngige said the two parties were on the same page on the need to expand the refining capacity of the local refineries to reduce importation of refined petrol.

Consequently, the NNPC was mandated to “expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50 per cent completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee,” he said.

The communique also agreed that “The Federal Government and its agencies to ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable the delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel. A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organized Labour shall be established for timely delivery,” he said.

Other broad agreements include the following:

> Government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest earners.

> Government will give the labour unions 133 CNG/LPG-driven mass transit buses immediately and “provide to the major cities across the country on a scale-up basis thereafter to all States and Local Governments before December 2021.”

> 10 per cent of the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative will be allocated to Nigerian workers under the NLC and TUC.

“A specific amount to be unveiled by the federal government in two weeks’ time which will be isolated from the Economic Sustainability Programme Intervention Fund and be accessed by Nigerian Workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the CBN and the Ministry of Agriculture. The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting,” he said.

NLC president, Ayuba Wabba confirmed the content of the communique, adding that the leadership of the unions will immediately convey a meeting of the Central Working Committee to present the outcome of the meeting to them.

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