Tariff Hike: NLC insists on strike, rejects Gbajabiamila’s promised palliatives 

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Labour team led by President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, on Sunday, rebuffed palliatives promised Nigerian workers by Speaker of House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, and insisted that the NLC would go ahead with the strike.

The only thing that could avert the action , according to Wabva, was if its demands were met by the Federal Government before the expiration of the ultimatum.

In a last-ditch effort to avert the strike, planned for Monday, September 28, Speaker of  the House of Representatives, Gbajabiamila, had, on Sunday, offered organised labour some palliatives.

Rejecting the offer by the House of Representatives, the President of NLC, Wabba, said that the increase in electricity tariff and hike in fuel price had eroded the purchasing power of Nigerian workers.

He said the initial plan was that there would not be increase in electricity tariff until meters were provided for Nigerians.

Wabba commended the speaker for the intervention, adding that he had consistently represented the interest of Nigerians.

The NLC president said there was a valid court judgement nullifying the electricity tariff, adding that the judgment of the National Industrial Court asking NLC to stop its planned strike could not be sustained.

Gbajabiamila, at a negotiation meeting with labour on Sunday in Abuja, said the palliatives would be included in the proposed 2021 budget.

Gbajabiamila said that the budget would soon be presented to the National Assembly, stressing that some palliatives were being considered to cushion the effects of increase in electricity tariff and fuel price hike.

The palliatives, according to the speaker, included distribution of food items, reduction of taxes on minimum wage and payment of some special allowances.

Others were involvement in ownership of housing programmes through mortgage and distribution of special buses to public institutions which run on auto gas.

Gbajabiamila said that the palliatives would go a long way to assuage the suffering of Nigerians.

He said the lawmakers would also make provision in the budget to tackle the eight million deficit of meters to enable Nigerians to access them.

Gbajabiamila, who described estimated billing as a scam, said: “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.”

He appealed to labour to suspend the planned strike, saying embarking on industrial action at this critical time would not augur well for the citizenry.

“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,” he said.

Gbajabiamila said that there was the need for every Nigerian to be properly metered in order to capture the true cost, adding that the lawmakers would consider metering in the 2021 budget.

(NAN)

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