By: Frank Ikpefan, Abuja
After about eight hours talks, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have agreed to suspend its planned nationwide strike planned for Monday following an agreement with the Federal Government on palliatives to cushion the increases in fuel and electricity tariff.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen Chris Ngige broke the news to reporters at the end of a marathon meeting, which commenced at 8:30pm on Sunday and ended in the early hours of Monday.
In a communique, the meeting agreed to set up a Technical sub – Committee to look at the increase in electricity tariff.
The committee was given two week to submit its report.
Ngige; Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva; Minjster of State, Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Power, Jeddy-Goddy Agba; and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha signed on behalf of the federal government.
While NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; TUC President, Quadri Olaleye; Secretary-General of TUC, Musa Ozigi-Lawal; NLC Secretary-General, Emma Ugboaja; NUPENG President, Williams Akporeha; PENGASSAN President, Festus Osifo; President NUEE, Martin Uzoegwu and President, SSAEAC, Chris Okonkwo signed on behalf of Organised Labour.
The meeting also agreed that the Power Distribution Companies should suspend the application of the cost – reflective Electricity Tariff adjustments.
The meeting also agreed to revive the moribund National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) and be inaugurated before the end of 2020 to institutionalise the process of tripartism and socio dialogue on socio – economic and major labour matters to forestall crisis.
The Federal Government agreed to make available to Organised Labour 133 CNG/liquified petroleum gas (LPG) driven mass transit buses immediately to major cities across the country.
The communique reads: “To cushion the impacts of the downstream sector deregulation and tariffs adjustment in the power sector, the Federal Government will implement the following:
“A specific amount to be unveiled by the FGN in two weeks’ time 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.
“Federal Government will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.
“Federal Government will make available to organized labour 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.
“Housing: 10% be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC.
“Consequently, the NLC and TUC agreed to suspend the planned industrial action.”
The meeting also agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependency on importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.
“To address (1) above, NNPC to expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna and to achieve 50% completion for Port Harcourt by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive Steering Committee.
“To ensure Commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) into the Steering Committee already established by the Corporation.
“A validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), NUPENG and PENGASSAN will be established to monitor progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the Steering Committee periodically.
“Post rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the Nation’s refineries.
“The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing framework for financing in the downstream sector.
“NNPC to expedite work on the Build Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of Petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.
“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 delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel. A Governance Structure that will include representatives of organized Labour shall be established for timely delivery,” the communique added.
TUC president said labour will resume industrial if agreements reached at the meeting were not implemented in the two weeks timeframe.
Mustapha said he was hopeful of a successful implementation of the agreements reached at the meeting.